di Mario Primerano
Rome, October 14 - Because Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke refused to accept responsibility and repent for his crimes, he cannot be forgiven for his part in a Second World War massacre, the leader of Rome's Jewish community said Monday. "According to Jewish tradition, forgiveness is expected," Riccardo Pacifici said following a meeting with Prime Minister Enrico Letta. However, "I do not think that in recent years Priebke has ever been repentant," and cannot be forgiven, said Pacifici, speaking just days after the former SS officer Priebke's death at age 100. He noted that Priebke also did not seek forgiveness for his role in torturing Italian Resistance fighters. Controversy continued Monday over where to bury the former Priebke, who never repudiated his Nazi past. He had been serving a life sentence under house arrest in the Italian capital for his part in a 1944 reprisal at a quarry known as the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome that killed 335 men and boys including 75 Jews. The atrocity, ordered by Hitler a day after 33 SS policemen from the northern Italian German-speaking city of Bolzano were killed by a partisan bomb in Rome, was one of the worst war crimes in Italy in the Second World War. Priebke's lawyer Paolo Giachini said late last week that a private funeral, attended only by close friends and family, would be held in a downtown church in Rome, perhaps on Tuesday of this week. But Roman mayor Ignazio Marino and Catholic church authorities quickly moved to shut down that possibility. The Jewish Community in Rome threatened to lead street protests if Priebke were permitted a tomb in the Italian capital.