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Italian court upholds ex-Nazis' WWII massacre sentences

October 27, 2012


The image shows Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi party. — Photo by AP/File

ROME: A military court of appeal in Rome on Friday upheld the life sentences passed on three ex-Nazis for the killing of hundreds of civilians during World War II.

The three were among nine former soldiers, mostly in their nineties and tried in their absence, who were given life sentences in July 2011 for the killings in villages in northern Italy in 1944.

Of the nine three have since died and three others were acquitted by the appeal court on Friday.

The men were part of the Hermann Goering division which had tried to break the back of the Italian resistance and indiscriminately slaughtered civilians, including 140 in the Modena region alone.

The sentences were also for massacres carried out in other parts of the Emilia Romagna region and near Arezzo in Tuscany.

The trial began in November 2010 after a five-year investigation. The accused were sentenced in absentia.

Those against whom the life sentences were upheld were Hans Georg Karl Winkler, 90, Alfred Luhmann, 87 and Wilhelm Stark, 92.

The charge sheet said the defendants had “command and supervisory functions in the Goering division” and at various levels “contributed to cause the death of many Italian citizens which were not involved in military operations, including women, old people, children and sick people, acting with cruelty and premeditation”.

Helmut Odenwald, 93, Erick Koeppe, 93, and Ferdinand Osterhaus, 95, were acquitted.

In all, about 400 people died in the massacres which were reprisals for resistance activities.