Nazi war criminal gets Italian memorial

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Erich Priebke pictured in 2007. Photo: Andreas Solaro / AFP
15:07 CEST+02:00
The memorial service for Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke will be held in Italy, his lawyer told AFP Saturday after Argentina, where the former SS officer wished to be buried, refused to accept his body.

"The ceremony will be held Tuesday" in a church in Rome, said lawyer Paolo Giachini.

Priebke died Friday in Rome at the age of 100 after serving nearly 15 years under house arrest for a World War II massacre at Italy's Ardeatine Caves that killed 335 people, including 75 Jews.

Giachini had initially said Priebke would be buried near his wife in Argentina, where he fled after the war, but officials in Buenos Aires have refused to accept his remains.

The lawyer did not say whether Priebke would be buried in Italy after the memorial service.

Priebke was sentenced to life in prison in 1998, four years after being arrested in the Argentine ski resort city of Bariloche, where he had lived for more than 40 years.

Because of his age and ill-health he was allowed to serve out his sentence under house arrest at Giachini's home.

The Ardeatine Caves massacre was carried out in March 1944 in retaliation for an attack by the Italian resistance movement on SS soldiers. Victims of the massacre were executed with a bullet to the neck.

Priebke never expressed remorse for the killings, insisting he had only obeyed orders.

"My death would not have allowed for those innocents to be saved," he said at an appeal hearing in 1998.

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The Argentine foreign ministry said on Twitter that "Foreign Minister Hector Timerman has given the order not to accept the slightest move to allow the return of the body of Nazi criminal Erich Priebke to our country."

The move was welcomed by Jewish groups in Argentina, which has the largest Jewish community in Latin America with about 300,000 members.

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