Italians issue warrants for 8 ex-SS

29th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2007, ROME (AP) _ An Italian military prosecutor said he had issued European arrest warrants for eight former Nazi SS members convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in two 1944 massacres of hundreds of civilians in Italy.

29 June 2007

ROME (AP) _ An Italian military prosecutor said he had issued European arrest warrants for eight former Nazi SS members convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in two 1944 massacres of hundreds of civilians in Italy.

The arrest warrants were issued over the last year, with the latest Thursday, as Italy seeks out the Germans convicted in two separate trials, said Marco De Paolis, who prosecuted the cases in the northern Italian port town of La Spezia.

Five warrants have been issued for former SS members involved in the killing of more than 500 people in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, and three more for the slaughter of more than 700 people in the small town of Marzabotto, De Paolis said.

Italian military courts convicted in absentia 10 German men for the Sant'Anna killings in 2005 and 10 for the Marzabotto case in January. The men have denied committing atrocities or have maintained they were only following orders. Two convicted for the Sant'Anna case have since died.

So far, only eight warrants have been issued because some defendants have appealed their convictions to higher courts, De Paolis said, adding that the appeals hearings for both cases are set for later this year. Under Italian law, convicted defendants usually go to jail only when they have exhausted all appeals or if they do not present an appeal.

The eight Germans that are being sought are all in their 80s. Seven are believed to be in Germany and one in Austria, De Paolis told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

In August 1944, about 300 SS troops surrounded Sant'Anna, which had been flooded with refugees, ostensibly to hunt for partisans. Instead, they rounded up and shot villagers, according to survivors. Others were herded into basements and other enclosed spaces and killed with hand grenades.

Between September and October of the same year, SS troops, again on the hunt for resistance fighters, killed men, women, the elderly and children, including a 2-week-old baby, in and around Marzabotto, committing the worst in a series of atrocities by Nazi troops in central and northern Italy during the war.

The prosecutor said that so far there had been little response to the warrants from authorities in the countries involved, even for three initial warrants issued in February 2006 for the Sant'Anna killings.

So far, only the Justice Ministry in the German Baden-Wuerttemberg state has responded to one arrest warrant and that was to request further information, De Paolis said.

Under EU rules, authorities could jail the men in the countries where they live or surrender them to Italy, he said.

AP

Subject: German news

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