Convicted Nazi war criminal Priebke dies in Rome aged 100

Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:55pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Erich Priebke, the last survivor of the Nazi military officers convicted over one of Italy's worst wartime atrocities, died on Friday in Rome at the age of 100, his lawyer said.

Priebke, who never apologized for his role in the killing of 335 civilians in 1944, was serving out a life sentence under house arrest.

"Priebke never had time for even a moment of emotion for the family members of his victims. It would have cost him nothing but he never did it," said Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome's Jewish community.

"Now he will be judged by those he killed."

Priebke, who called himself "the last prisoner of war," was extradited to Italy in 1995 from Argentina and definitively convicted in 1998 after several appeals.

The Ardeatine Caves Massacre - a mass execution of civilians on March 24, 1944 - is etched in Italy's national psyche. Presidents, popes and heads of state have visited the site to pay homage to the victims.

The executions in the caves south of Rome were carried out as a reprisal for a partisan bomb attack that killed 33 German soldiers on a Rome street the day before.

Hitler ordered occupation forces to respond within 24 hours by executing 10 Italians for each German killed.   Continued...

Former German Nazi SS officer Erich Priebke waves to the members of the media as he boards a plane to be extradited to Italy to face a war crimes trial, in Bariloche, southern Argentina in this November 20, 1995 file photo. REUTERS/ Enrique Marcarian/Files