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No takers for Nazi war criminal`s body

IANS | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 18:59

Rome: The body of a Nazi war criminal, Erich Priebke who died in Rome last week, was Wednesday transferred to a military airport near the Italian capital after his funeral and burial outside Rome was stopped during riots between protesters and neo-Nazis.

Italian officials said contacts had been made with Germany amid media reports that Priebke`s body could be flown there.

A funeral in Albano Laziale, south of Rome, was called off Tuesday as protesters shouted "murderer" and "executioner" and clashed with Nazi sympathisers as his coffin passed.

As Priebke`s coffin was taken away in an unmarked police van from the chapel of an ultra-traditionalist Catholic splinter group that had agreed to conduct the funeral, protesters hurled rocks at the vehicle, shattering its windscreen before being dispersed by police.

Priebke`s lawyer, Paolo Giachini, said the funeral had been stopped because authorities had prevented friends and family from entering.

The German embassy in Rome refused to comment.

The Vatican issued an unprecedented ban on holding the funeral in any Catholic church in Rome.

The city`s mayor Ignazio Marino, said there was no way that Priebke, who was jailed in 1998 over the 1944 massacre in Rome of 335 civilians, including 75 Jews, could be buried in the capital.

Up until his death under house arrest in Rome last week aged 100, Priebke never repented Rome`s notorious Ardeatine Caves massacre, Italy`s worst wartime atrocity.

He admitted personally killing two of the victims, insisted he was just following orders, denied the existence of World War II gas chambers and remained faithful to the Nazi ideology to the end.

Authorities in Priebke`s hometown of Henningsdorf, 22 km northwest of Berlin, Monday ruled out his burial there as had been suggested by the leader of the Jewish community in Rome, Riccardo Pacifici.

Argentina, where Priebke lived for almost 50 years after the war, refused to take his body cementing his status as an international pariah.

The Ardeatine Caves massacre March 24, 1944, was thought to have been ordered by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in revenge for the killing by Italian resistance fighters of 33 German soldiers in a bomb attack in Rome a day earlier.

The order was "10 Italians executed for each German killed" but five more people were rounded up and killed than the list of 330 condemned by the "10 to 1" rule.

At his trial, Priebke, who was in charge of checking the list of people taken to the caves, was held directly responsible for the five extra killings.

First Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 16:20

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