BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Seven years for 'Butcher of Genoa'
Friedrich Engel
Engel gave away no emotion when the verdict was read
A German court has sentenced a former SS officer known as "the butcher of Genoa" to seven years in jail for ordering the massacre of 59 Italian prisoners in 1944.


It was a cruel and illegal killing, which Engel helped bring about

Judge Rolf Seedorf

But the 93-year-old will not serve the sentence, on the grounds of age.

The court in Hamburg ruled he had ordered the execution of the men - Italian naval commandos - on a mountain pass outside Genoa, in northern Italy.

Friedrich Engel, who was the head of the SS security service in the city at the time, maintained throughout the trial that he had merely observed the event, and did not supervise the executions.

He blamed Nazi naval officers for the shootings - a reprisal for a partisan attack on a cinema that killed five German soldiers - though admitted to approving the list of prisoners to be shot.

'Cruel' act

"It was a cruel and illegal killing, which Engel helped bring about," said presiding Judge Rolf Seedorf.

The victims were forced to stand in groups of six on a plank over a rough grave dug by Jewish prisoners. They were shot, and were buried where they fell.

The prosecutor had requested life imprisonment because of what he said was the cruel nature of the act.

But Judge Seedorf cited exceptional circumstances - a reference to the length of time since the crimes were committed - and patchy witness testimony for handing down a lesser sentence.

Engel appeared unmoved as the verdict was read.

Challenging the defendant's claim not to have ordered the shootings, one witness who told the court that Engel had not only supervised the killings but, at one point, had ordered an lieutenant to shoot a captive who was not yet dead.

Prosecutors had argued that the SS would not have allowed such an operation to be handled by anyone else.

TV revelations

BBC Berlin correspondent Rob Broomby says this may count as one of the last war crimes trials to be held in Germany.

Friedrich Engel had already been convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 1999, which sentenced him to life imprisonment for war crimes and his part in 246 deaths.

He had been living in Hamburg for decades before a German TV documentary team discovered him and highlighted the case.

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the opening of the German trial, describing it as an "important act of moral significance".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jake Lynch
"Friedrich Engel deployed the classic defence to Nazi war crimes"
See also:

07 May 02 | Europe
26 Mar 01 | Media reports
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes