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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
'Butcher of Genoa' ruling quashed
Friedrich Engel
Friedrich Engel, 95, is too old to face a re-trial
A German court has thrown out the conviction of a former Nazi SS officer who was found guilty of ordering the deaths of 59 Italian prisoners in 1944.

Friedrich Engel, known as "the butcher of Genoa", was sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in the executions.

The federal court said he was legally responsible for the massacre, but questioned whether there was enough evidence to secure a murder conviction.

Due to his advanced age, Mr Engel, 95, will not face a re-trial.

Appeal

Mr Engel had appealed against the decision by a lower court in Hamburg in 2002.

The court ruled he had ordered the execution of the Italian naval commandos on a mountain pass outside Genoa, in northern Italy, in revenge for an attack on a cinema full of German soldiers.

Mr Engel, who was the head of the SS in the city at the time, maintained that he had observed the event - and did not supervise the executions.

He 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.


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