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'Germany may reopen probe into Nazi massacre in Italy'

12/04/2013

WWII soldiers accused of killing 560 civilians in Tuscany

'Germany may reopen probe into Nazi massacre in Italy'

Rome, April 12 - German authorities may reopen an investigation into Nazi soldiers who allegedly massacred 560 civilians in a Tuscan village in 1944, German media reported Friday. Der Spiegel's online edition says a new investigation may be launched following a study by Italian-German historian Carlo Gentile, who has unearthed some weaknesses in the work that was carried out by German prosecutors. In October, German magistrates decided to spike the case against the surviving Nazi soldiers accused of participating in the World War II massacre, which included 116 children, in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, near Lucca. Amid a national outcry, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano spoke out against the German court's ruling, calling it "disturbing". In its own investigation and trial, the Italian military court condemned 10 of the ex-Nazi officers to life in prison in absentia, including eight who remain alive. Germany refused to grant Italy's request for the men's arrest. Only three former Nazis have ever been jailed in Italy for war crimes. Erich Priebke, 99, was extradited from Argentina in 1995 and sentenced to life for his part in a 1944 reprisal outside Rome that killed 335 men and boys including many Jews; his ex-commander Karl Hass, arrested after coming from Switzerland to Priebke's trial with witness immunity, died in prison aged 92 in 2004; and 'Butcher of Bolzano' Michael Seifert, found guilty of 18 murders, was extradited from Canada to serve life in 2008 and died in jail aged 86 in 2010. Priebke is now under house arrest in Rome. He had a work permit revoked in 2007 after an outcry from the city's Jewish community. Italian prosecutors have issued European arrest warrants for 15 other German former soldiers without success. Under the terms of a postwar settlement, Germany is not required to extradite alleged war criminals to Italy. The two countries agreed in 2008 to review outstanding wartime issues including the compensation for victims.