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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 August 2005, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Anger at Nazi criminal's holiday
Former SS officer Erich Priebke
Priebke was convicted of the 1944 slaughter of 335 people
A row has erupted in Italy after a Nazi war criminal being held under house arrest in Rome was allowed to go on holiday to Lake Maggiore.

Erich Priebke, 92, is serving a life sentence for the murder of 335 people at the Ardeatine caves outside Rome.

He is staying at a villa which belongs to the son of a former Gestapo chief.

A magistrate in Rome approved his request to go on holiday, angering local people as well as wartime resistance and Jewish groups.

"It's an act of injustice," said Marco Reguzzoni, president of the province of Varese, which includes the town of Cardana di Besozzo where the villa is situated.

"This isn't any old man. After being a fugitive of justice all his life, he gets house arrest - but giving him holiday on Lake Maggiore is too much," he added.

"But I don't have the power to intercede against this undesired presence."


The decision by the Rome magistrate to grant the former SS captain a police-supervised holiday is a reward for his good conduct.

But politicians from across the political spectrum, resistance fighters' associations and Jewish groups have voiced their outrage and astonishment.

Amos Luzzatto, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said the magistrate had shown "a loss of memory" with regard to World War II atrocities.

"From a moral point of view, this is disturbing not just for me but for many of those who lived through those years," he said.

The massacre was a reprisal ordered by Adolf Hitler in person after a group of partisans killed a patrol of 33 German soldiers by setting off a bomb in Rome.

Shortly afterwards, Nazi officers rounded up men and boys living in that neighbourhood including a number of Jews, anti-fascists and petty criminals.

They took them to the Ardeatine caves and shot them.

Priebke is currently visiting a German sculptor, Dietrich Bickler, the son of Hermann Bickler, a former head of the Nazi secret police known as Gestapo.

Priebke, who spent most of his life in Argentina before being extradited to Italy in 1994, was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest due to his age and health problems.

Former Nazis jailed for life
17 Nov 98 |  Europe

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