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Nine Former Nazis Sentenced in Italy

Defendants each receive life sentences
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: July 7th, 2011 in News » World
Modena, ItalyPic: Wikipedia

An Italian court in Verona has convicted nine former Nazis for their actions during World War II. They were found guilty for murdering over 140 civilians in the region of Modena in 1944 as well as other massacres out in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna in central and northern Italy respectively. Three other former Nazis originally stood on trial for the crimes, however they died within the process of the seven month trial.

All nine who were convicted were elderly German males. The names and ages of seven of them were released in reports: Hans Georg Karl Winkler and Karl Friedrich Mess, both in their 80s, Erich Koeppe, 91, Herbert Wilke, 92, Helmut Odenwald, 91, who served as a captain, Ferdinand Osterhaus, 93, who was a second lieutenant and Wilhelm Karl Stark, 90, a former sergeant.

According to an Italian news agency, ANSA, all nine were sentenced in absentia, Wednesday evening, to life in prison. The trial began in November 2010 after a five-year investigation.

They were reportedly part of the “Hermann Goehring” parachute division, which had tried to destroy the Italian resistance by indiscriminately slaughtering civilians late in the war.

“At last there is justice for the victims and their relatives and a bloody page of history can be closed,” one of the plaintiffs told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Sixty-seven years have passed, but at least they didn't pass in vain.”

The court proceedings were attended by relatives of the victims who were killed in the attacks, as well as the mayors of the towns in which the massacres took place. These towns are located in the Italian provinces of Modena, Arezzo and Reggio Emilia.

Mayor, Stefano Milli of Stia, in the province of Arezzo told ANSA that the wound created by the attacks still remains open for the elderly survivors.

In 2009, 90-year-old, former German infantry commander, Josef Scheungraber received a life sentence in Munich for his role in killing fourteen civilians in an Italian village during World War II. In absentia, Scheungraber had also been sentenced by an Italian military court to life in prison for murders in Falzano di Cortona, in Tuscany, on June 26, 1944.

Related articles: Nazis, World War II, Italy, Germany, Court
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