Official: Prosecute Austrian soldiers for WWII crimes

17th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

In a statement issued on the 66th anniversary of a civilian massacre in Kommeno, Greece, Social Democrat deputy Johann Maier said it was time go after Austrian soldiers implicated in such crimes.

Vienna -- Austrian soldiers suspected of World War II massacres should be prosecuted, an Austrian deputy said Sunday, after a German court found a former army commander guilty of war crimes last week.

In a statement issued on the 66th anniversary of a civilian massacre in Kommeno, Greece, Social Democrat deputy Johann Maier said it was time go after Austrian soldiers implicated in such crimes.

"Since the names of the mountain infantrymen (Gebirgsjaeger) involved in war crimes are known, the Austrian justice system should move against those soldiers in Austria who are still living," he said.

Numerous war crimes committed by Germany's Wehrmacht in occupied countries like Greece, Italy and the former Yugoslavia, had so far gone unpunished, Maier insisted.

"From 1943 on, soldiers from the 1st Mountain Division (Gebirgsdivision) took part in numerous massacres of civilians, the shooting of hostages and the murder of prisoners of war in the former Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece," he said.

Many in this division were Austrian, he noted.

In Kommeno, 317 men, women and children were killed by the Division's 12th Company on August 16, 1943, he said.

Further massacres of civilians took place in Lyngiades, Skines, Lamerivio, Paramythia and Mousiotitsa, while on the island of Kefalonia, German troops executed some 5,000 Italian prisoners of war.

Mountain infantrymen also worked with the local secret police to deport Greek Jews in Ioannina, Maier said.

"There is no statute of limitations for murder, and Austria is no exception," he added.

On Tuesday, a court in Munich convicted a 90-year-old former German army commander for the murder of 10 people in a mass killing that ultimately claimed the lives of 14 villagers in the Italian town of Falzano di Cortona in 1944.

Josef Scheungraber, a commander of Gebirgs-Pionier-Bataillon 818, was sentenced to life in prison in what was expected to be one of the last cases in Germany dealing with atrocities of the Nazi era.

AFP/Expatica

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