Former Nazi officers face life sentences in Italy

10th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 June 2005, ROME - Ten former Nazi officers face life sentences in Italy for their role in the 1944 massacre of 560 civilians in a small village near Florence.

10 June 2005

ROME - Ten former Nazi officers face life sentences in Italy for their role in the 1944 massacre of 560 civilians in a small village near Florence.

The German nationals are being tried in absentia by a military court in La Spezia, in north-west Italy, with a sentence expected by the end of June.

Prosecutor Marco De Paolis asked judges to inflict the maximum penalty during a hearing on Thursday, saying there was enough evidence to back the view that the defendants "had a precise role in the massacre".

His request was met with loud applause from relatives of the victims gathered in the courtroom.

The so-called Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre of 12 August 1944, was perpetrated by SS officers of the 16th Panzergrenadier division.

Some historians say it was an act of retaliation against Italian partisans resisting German occupation during World War II. Others claim it was an unwarranted act of intimidation.

Most of the victims were women, children and elderly people.

One German witness heard in court said many of them were shot dead while praying on their knees. The local priest, Don Innocenzo Lazzeri, was also killed while blessing the victims.

The defendants are in their 80s and living as pensioners in Germany.

Italy has been reopening its investigations into Nazi wartime atrocities since 1996, when former SS captain Erich Priebke was found guilty of playing a major role in another 1944 massacre.

Most of the evidence backing the latest probes only emerged after wartime archives were reopened a few years ago.

The trial into the Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre began in April of last year, with the next hearing scheduled to take place on 14 June.

DPA

Subject: German news

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