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Former German Army officer convicted of WWII killings

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 16:00

Munich: A 90-year-old former German Army
officer was convicted of murder on Tuesday over the killings of
Italian civilians during World War II, and sentenced to life
in prison.

The Munich state court convicted Josef Scheungraber on 10
counts of murder and also found him guilty of attempted

Scheungraber was a 25-year-old Wehrmacht lieutenant at
the time of the June 1944 killings in Falzano di Cortona, near
the Tuscan town of Arezzo. The killings came after partisans
killed two German soldiers.

Prosecutors alleged that after partisans killed two
German soldiers, Scheungraber commanded his soldiers to shoot
three Italian men and one woman. They said he then ordered
that another 11 civilians be herded into a barn that was blown
up. He was charged with 14 counts of murder and one count of
attempted murder.

Scheungraber, who was in command of a company of
engineers, maintains he was not in Falzano di Cortona when the
killings happened, but was in charge of overseeing
reconstruction of a nearby bridge.

His defence team called for an acquittal in their closing
arguments in July, saying that there was no evidence of
Scheungraber`s personal guilt.

Prosecutors acknowledged that there are no known living
witnesses who heard Scheungraber give the order to kill the
civilians. But they said he was seen in pictures at the burial
of the two German soldiers for whose deaths the reprisals were
carried out.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 16:00
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