German ex-politician goes on trial for war crimes

22nd March 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 March 2006, LA SPEZIA, ITALY - A prominent German politician went on trial in the Italian city of La Spezia on Wednesday over his alleged role in a wartime Nazi massacre.

22 March 2006

LA SPEZIA, ITALY - A prominent German politician went on trial in the Italian city of La Spezia on Wednesday over his alleged role in a wartime Nazi massacre.

Klaus Konrad, 91, is accused of taking part in the so-called "Massacre of San Polo", in which German soldiers rounded up and murdered 61 civilians from two small villages in northern Tuscany as part of a reprisal against partisan resistance fighters.

The victims of the 1944 massacre reportedly included a sexually- abused pregnant woman, children and elderly people.

Konrad, a retired Social Democrat MP and once a legal advisor to former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, was a second lieutenant stationed in Italy at the time.

He denies the charges and was not present in court Wednesday, though he has vowed to attend future hearings, the Ansa news agency reported.

Also facing murder charges in the same trial is former Wehrmacht officer Herbert Handsck. The former Nazi major, who along with Konrad and a third man is accused of ordering the massacre, is being defended by Harald Offner, an Austrian lawyer who once acted as a minister in Jorg Haider's right-wing government.

The San Polo massacre is one of several carried out by the Nazi in their efforts to crush partisan resistance during World War II.

Details of the Nazi massacres emerged only in the 1990s. Italy had previously sought to keep quiet about them in an effort not to mar relations with the Federal Republic of Germany during the Cold War.

A number of former German officers have either been convicted or are currently on trial in La Spezia's military tribunal in connection with World War II crimes.

Wednesday's hearing was adjourned to April 26 to allow defence lawyers more time to study the case.

DPA

Subject: German news

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