Windsor Star

German denies Nazi war crime involvemen­t

- BY RALF ISERMANN AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE MUNICH, GERMANY

A 90-year-old German, sentenced in Italy in absentia to life in prison for a Nazi war crime, pleaded innocent Monday at the start of a trial in Germany in one of the last cases of its kind.

Josef Scheungrab­er, then the commander of a German mountain infantry battalion, is accused of ordering the killing of 14 civilians in the Tuscan village of Falzano on June 26, 1944.

The massacre was allegedly in retaliatio­n for an attack by Italian partisans that left two German soldiers dead.

More than six decades on, the trial in the southern city of Munich comes at the end of a prolonged legal odyssey that has provoked outrage among Nazi victims’ groups.

Documents found in the 1990s pointed to Scheungrab­er’s alleged involvemen­t in the killings and he was sentenced in absentia in September 2006 to life imprisonme­nt by the Italian military tribunal in La Spezia.

However Germany as a rule does not extradite its citizens without their consent and has not received a formal request from Italy to jail him here.

The Munich daily Sueddeutsc­he Zeitung said Monday that Scheungrab­er’s prosecutio­n in Germany “is possibly — and even probably — the last major trial for crimes committed under the Nazis.”

A handful of protesters gathered outside the courtroom holding a placard reading: Mass Murderer Here! Give the Murdered a Name.

Scheungrab­er faces 14 counts of murder and one of attempted murder. He followed the proceeding­s with headphones due to his poor hearing.

The accused “completely and thoroughly denies the accusation­s in the charge sheet,” said a statement read in court by one of his two lawyers, Christian Stuenkel.

 ?? Reuters photo ?? IN COURT: 90-year-old Josef Scheungrab­er sits in a Munich courtroom before the start of his trial on Monday.
Reuters photo IN COURT: 90-year-old Josef Scheungrab­er sits in a Munich courtroom before the start of his trial on Monday.

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