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Wednesday 1 October 2014

SS massacre man Priebke dies at 100

Published 11/10/2013 | 15:01

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Former Nazi officer, Erich Priebke, sentenced to life for a 1944 massacre in Italy, has died aged 100 (AP)

Erich Priebke, a former Nazi SS captain sentenced to life in prison for his role in one of the worst atrocities by German occupiers in Italy during the Second World War, has died, reports say.

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Priebke's lawyer Paolo Giachini said Priebke died on Friday aged 100, the LaPresse news agency said. Because of his age, Priebke had served his term under house arrest at Mr Giachini's home.

In 1994, Priebke was extradited to Italy from Argentina and put on trial for his role in the 1944 massacre outside Rome.

Nazi forces killed 335 civilians to avenge an attack by resistance fighters that killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit a day earlier.

Priebke admitted shooting two people and rounding up victims, but insisted he was only following orders.

AP

"The dignity with which he withstood his persecution made him an example of courage, coherence and loyalty," Mr Giachini said.

Priebke long felt like he had been scapegoated, since other Germans who had participated in the massacre weren't convicted, said another lawyer, Carlo Taormina.

Priebke had escaped in 1946 from a British prison camp in Rimini, a resort town on Italy's Adriatic coast, and had lived in Argentina for nearly 50 years before a US television programmr reported that he was living freely in Argentina.

That started off a lengthy extradition process that ended with him boarding a plane in Argentina on November 20, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg trials.

Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's chief Nazi hunter who just this year launched a new push to search for unpunished war criminals, said Priebke's case proves it is never too late to seek justice.

"Priebke's death at the age of 100 should be a powerful reminder that some of the worst perpetrators of the crimes of the Holocaust live to a healthy old age and that a person's chronological age should never prevent them from being held accountable for their crimes if they are healthy enough to be brought to justice," he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem.

"Priebke was a classic example of a totally unrepentant Nazi war criminal," he said.

AP

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