Nazi war criminal to be buried in Italy

Erich Priebke, who died aged 100 while living under house arrest for the murder of 330, to be buried at secret location.

    Though unrepentant to the end, Erich Priebke said the mass killing was "terrible" for him [AFP]
    Though unrepentant to the end, Erich Priebke said the mass killing was "terrible" for him [AFP]

    Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke will be buried in a secret location in Italy, his lawyer said, following a long legal dispute after the former SS officer's death in Rome last week.

    "We have an agreement with the authorities over the burial of Erich Priebke in a secret location," Paolo Giachini said on Saturday, after a funeral rite for Priebke earlier sparked street clashes near Rome.

    Asked by the AFP news agency whether the burial would take place in Italy, Giachini answered "yes". Italian news agency ANSA later reported him as saying the location would be "either in Italy or in Germany".

    "The agreement satisfies the family and ethical and spiritual requirements," Giachini said, adding that there would be "a small ceremony for relatives" following the burial rite.

    The German embassy in Rome said it had not been contacted by Priebke's lawyer and had no request for a burial, ANSA quoted embassy sources as saying.

    There is concern among Italian officials that if any burial plot becomes public it could become a pilgrimage point for Nazi sympathisers.

    The 100-year-old died while living under house arrest for his role in the massacre of 335 people - almost all of them civilians - in the Ardeatine complex of caves near Rome in 1944.


    Priebke was unrepentant to the end and in a chilling posthumous "video testament" released by Giachini this week said the massacre was actually the fault of partisan fighters because it was retaliation against the killing of 33 Germans.

    Speaking in heavily accented Italian, Priebke also said the mass killing was "terrible" for him and the other SS officers involved.

    The controversy over his long life as a free man and the lax conditions of his house arrest and the subsequent funeral arrangements has shown how raw the wounds of that massacre still are in the city.

    Rome city authorities have banned any burial and the Vatican earlier issued an unprecedented order barring any Catholic church in the city from holding a funeral mass for the war criminal.

    Giachini tried to hold a funeral on Tuesday at a seminary of the ultra-conservative Catholic splinter group Society of St Pius X in the town of Albano Laziale outside Rome, but the rite was shut down by a police order amid protests and clashes.

    The hearse drove into the compound through a crowd of hundreds of local residents and leftist protesters, who spat and punched the car.



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