Protests against leniency for SS war criminal Priebke in Italy


25 April 2007, in Monte Sole (Marzabotto), Italy: Italian ex anti fascist resistance fighters and their supporters remember the victims of Hitler’s SS murderers.

Music: Bella Ciao.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

2007-06-13 17:31

Rome protests Priebke day release

MPs, Jewish leaders angry as war criminal free to work

Rome, June 13 – Italian lawmakers and Jewish community leaders have reacted angrily to a ruling that awarded a Nazi war criminal day release in his life sentence for Italy’s worst WWII atrocity.

Ex-SS captain Erich Priebke, 93, was sentenced to life in 1998 for his part in the execution of 335 men and boys, including 26 Jews, at a quarry outside Rome in 1944.

He has been under house arrest since 2003 after being released from a military prison for health reasons in 1999.

Priebke has been living in the house of his lawyer, who has now convinced a Rome military tribunal to let Priebke work in his office.

The tribunal’s Tuesday night ruling sparked an outcry on Wednesday.

Centre-left lawmaker Roberto Giacchetti called on Rome to “mobilise” against the sentence while Communist MP Pino Sgobio said Priebke’s release was an “offence to the memory” of those who died and Lazio Regional President Piero Marrazzo spoke of “incomprehensible lenience”.

The leader of Rome’s Jewish community, Leone Paserman, said the ruling “throws shame on the magistrate who decided it and the entire judiciary”.

Paserman noted ironically that the same tribunal which let Priebke out for poor health now deemed him fit enough to work.

The leader of Italy’s Jewish communities, Renzo Gattegna, said “we are appalled and depressed”.

Both Paserman and Gattegna voiced the fear that Priebke’s release might be a prelude to his fleeing Italy like his former commander, ex-Rome SS chief Herbert Kappler, who escaped from a Rome military hospital in 1977 and died the next year in West Germany.

The Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem called the ruling “outrageous”.

Deputy Premier Francesco Veltroni and Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni voiced “solidarity” with the Jewish community.

Italian Justice Minister Clemente Mastella voiced “solidarity” with Italy’s Jewish community but said he could not comment on the “merits” of the ruling because military tribunals come under the defence ministry.

A client at a corner bar commented: “Priebke coming to work here? He already did his dirty work, a long time ago”. ..,

The latest row over Priebke was the second time in two years that the Italian political world and the Jewish community had protested against alleged lenience for the former Nazi.

In 2005 a decision to allow him to spend some time at a friend’s summer home caused a similar outcry.

Acting on Kappler’s order in 1944, Priebke rounded up the 335 who were taken to a quarry on the outskirts of Rome and executed in reprisal for a partisan bomb that killed 33 German soldiers in downtown Rome.

He was extradited from Argentina in November 1995, where he had lived openly as a schoolteacher since the end of the war.

Argentina has said it will not accept the body of convicted Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who died in Italy on Friday aged 100: here.

Former Austrian president Waldheim dies: here.

11 thoughts on “Protests against leniency for SS war criminal Priebke in Italy

  1. Nazi war criminal sparks fresh ire
    Protests as lifer Erich Priebke does first day of work

    (ANSA) – Rome, June 18 – A 93-year-old convicted Nazi war criminal began his new job as a translator on Monday amid fresh protests by Rome’s Jewish community.

    Erich Priebke arrived on the back of a scooter at the office of his lawyer, Paolo Giachini, for whom he will do legal translation.

    He was greeted by a crowd of protestors who angrily pointed out that if he was healthy enough to work, then he was healthy enough to return to prison. “We want to see the medical certificates that allowed him out of house arrest. If he can work, then he can spend the night in jail,” said one protester.

    “We want Italian President (Giorgio Napolitano) to stop this disgrace which stains Italy’s image around the world,” said another.

    Another carried a placard reading “Priebke, If This Is A Man,” citing the title of the Primo Levi masterpiece about Auschwitz.

    When Priebke left the lawyer’s office, he was accompanied by cries of “shame”.

    Responding to the anger, Italian Defence Minister Arturo Parisi summoned Italy’s top military prosecutor to explain why a military tribunal came to last week’s decision.

    He noted, as have many others, that Priebke has never expressed remorse for his part in Italy’s worst WWII atrocity.

    Rome prosecutors opened a probe into the affair, which has incensed Jews in Italy and abroad. The former SS captain was sentenced to life in 1998 for his part in the execution of 335 men and boys, including 75 Jews, at a quarry outside Rome in 1944.

    He has been under house arrest since 2003 after being released from a military prison for health reasons in 1999.

    Priebke has been living in the house of his lawyer, who last week convinced a Rome military tribunal to let him work in his office.

    Giachini has replied to criticism by noting that his client had only received the same treatment as a string of Italian ex-terrorists.

    The latest row over Priebke was the second time in two years that the Italian political world and the Jewish community had protested against alleged lenience for the former Nazi.

    In 2005 a decision to allow him to spend some time at a friend’s summer home caused a similar outcry.

    Acting on the orders of Rome SS chief Herbert Kappler in 1944, Priebke rounded up the 335 who were taken to a quarry on the outskirts of Rome and executed in reprisal for a partisan bomb that killed 33 German soldiers in downtown Rome.

    He was extradited from Argentina in November 1995, where he had lived openly as a schoolteacher since the end of the war.

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  2. Nazi war criminal work leave nixed
    Erich Priebke returns to house arrest after outcry
    (ANSA) – Rome, June 19 – The work permit of an ex-Nazi who took part in Italy’s worst WWII atrocity has been revoked after an outcry from the Jewish community.

    Erich Priebke, 93, was back under house arrest Tuesday after just one day working in his lawyer’s office.

    Judicial sources said he had lost his day-release privileges because he had not given police proper notification of his movements.

    Priebke’s lawyer claimed this was a pretext.

    “There are covert powers in Italy. At this moment, the extremists of the Jewish community are in command,” said the lawyer, Paolo Giachini.

    The head of Rome’s Jewish community, Leone Paserman, said “it is only right that Priebke return to house arrest”.

    Community spokesman Riccardo Pacifici said the young Jews who protested outside the lawyer’s office Monday should be thanked for spurring authorities to act, almost a week after Priebke received a military tribunal’s permission to work for Giachini as a translator.

    Crowds of youths from Rome’s Jewish community shouted angry slogans at the ex-Nazi on his arrival on the back of Giachini’s scooter, pointing out that if he was healthy enough to work, then he was healthy enough to return to prison. “We want Italian President (Giorgio) Napolitano to stop this disgrace which stains Italy’s image around the world,” said one protester.

    Another carried a placard reading “Priebke, If This Is A Man,” citing the title of the Primo Levi masterpiece about Auschwitz.

    When Priebke left the lawyer’s office, he was accompanied by cries of “shame”.

    Responding to the anger, Italian Defence Minister Arturo Parisi summoned Italy’s top military prosecutor to explain the military tribunal’s decision.

    He noted, as have many others, that Priebke has never expressed remorse for his part in the execution of 335 men and boys, including 75 Jews, at a quarry outside Rome in 1944.

    Late on Monday the tribunal overturned its earlier decision. Parisi said Tuesday the repentance issue – “the fact that he’s never veen asked for a pardon” – had played a key part in the new ruling.

    Rome prosecutors have opened a probe into the affair, which incensed Jews in Italy and abroad and sparked fears he might escape from Italy like his former commander, SS Colonel Herbert Kappler did in 1977.

    In an interview to be published in Wednesday’s edition of Italian newsweekly Oggi, Kappler’s widow says she was able to walk her ailing husband – sentenced to life in 1948 – out of a Rome hospital because police surveillance had been eased.

    Oggi also interviewed former defence minister Vito Lattanzio, who was forced to resign over the affair.

    The ex-minister suggests that a member of Italy’s Christian Democrat (DC) hierarchy ordered the guard to be loosened. Lattanzio says he was a “scapegoat” for higher-ups, naming three ex-DC heavyweights – the late Aldo Moro, Giulio Andreotti and Arnaldo Forlani – as the prime suspects.

    “I never understoood which one it was,” Lattanzio says. Kappler’s new lease on life was short-lived, however. He died five months later in Germany.

    Former SS captain Priebke was sentenced to life in 1998 for his part in what is known as the Ardeatine Caves Massacre (‘cava’, in Italian, means ‘quarry’).

    He has been under house arrest since 2003 after being released from a military prison for health reasons in 1999.

    Priebke has been living in the house of his lawyer, who on June 12 convinced the Rome military tribunal to let him work in his office.

    Giachini originally replied to criticism of the ruling by noting that his client had only received the same treatment as a string of Italian ex-terrorists.

    There were vibrant protests from Italian leftists and the centre-left government initially appeared embarrassed, expressing solidarity with the Jewish community but taking no action.

    A few members of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right opposition voiced sympathy with Giachini’s arguments.

    After Priebke was ordered back to house arrest, a member of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, Maria Burani Procaccini, took Priebke’s side again, asking Napolitano to grant him a pardon.

    “We respect the sentence…but he was only a young officer…and we think this persecution of a 93-year-old should end,” she said. The latest row over Priebke was the second time in two years that the Italian political world and the Jewish community had protested against alleged lenience for the former Nazi.

    In 2005 a decision to allow him to spend some time at a friend’s summer home caused a similar outcry.

    Acting on Kappler’s orders in 1944, Priebke rounded up the 335 who were taken to a quarry on the outskirts of Rome and executed in reprisal for a partisan bomb that killed 33 German soldiers in downtown Rome.

    He was extradited from Argentina in November 1995, where he had lived openly as a schoolteacher since the end of the war.

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