An Italian prosecutor has asked a judge to put 17 former members of the Nazi SS on trial for their alleged role in the worst World War II-era civilian massacre in Italy, the 1944 slaughter of more than 700 people near Bologna, court officials said Monday.
Prosecutor Marco De Paolis asked Saturday that one officer and 16 enlisted personnel of the 16th SS Division stand trial for murder in a military court in the northern port town of La Spezia. The defendants are all in their 80s and live in Germany, De Paolis said.
Around the town of Marzabotto, a mountainous area south of Bologna, retreating Nazi troops carried out their worst civilian massacre on Italian soil. From Sept. 29, 1944, to Oct. 5, 1944, they slaughtered more than 700 people, mostly children, women and elderly, in what was ostensibly a hunt for resistance fighters.
Nazi troops lobbed grenades at civilians locked in a house and sprayed machine-gun fire to hit a row of children, among other atrocities.
Two leaders of the SS division were convicted after the war in Italy for the killings, but investigations of lower-ranking soldiers by German and Italian prosecutors languished for decades.
De Paolis said he did not expect a decision on whether the judge would order the 17 to stand trial for at least a month because it would take time to give notice to the defendants.
Four other former SS members were ordered to stand trial for the massacre last year, and De Paolis said he would ask to merge the proceedings in a single trial.
In a separate case last year in La Spezia, 10 former members of the SS were sentenced to life in prison for another 1944 massacre of more than 500 villagers in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema.