Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 15:35 UK

German tried over Nazi war crime

Josef Scheungraber, in court 15/09/08
Josef Scheungraber served on his town council

A former German infantry commander has gone on trial in Munich for a Nazi war crime, in what is expected to be one of the last cases of its kind.

Josef Scheungraber, 90, is accused of ordering the killing of 14 civilians in a Tuscan village in 1944.

He has previously been sentenced in absentia by an Italian military court to life in prison.

Scheungraber "completely and thoroughly denies the accusations in the charge sheet" said his lawyer.

Outside the courtroom, dozens of demonstrators held banners calling for Scheungraber to be put behind bars.

Some have been outraged that he has only been put on trial now.

He has lived for decades as a free man, and served on the town council in Ottobrunn, outside Munich.

He ran a furniture shop, attended German veterans' marches and recently received an award for municipal service.


Scheungraber wore a traditional Bavarian suit to the proceedings, which he followed through a hearing aid.

The court has determined that, despite his age, he is fit to be tried, though he will be allowed regular breaks.

The court heard how events unfolded 26 June, 1944.

German troops are alleged to have shot dead a 74-year-old woman and three men in the street before forcing 11 others into a farmhouse which they then blew up. A 15-year-old boy survived the attack with serious injuries.

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

Scheungraber said in his statement that he had not given an order for the killings and was not at the scene of the crime.

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