An Italian court sentenced two former German soldiers to life in prison for their role in the 1944 massacre of 16 people near the Tuscan town of Arezzo, a lawyer said Friday.
The military court in the northern port town of La Spezia found Herbert Stommel and Joseph Scheungraber guilty of complicity in murdering civilians, said Stommel's court-appointed lawyer, Giovanni Battista Santini.
The two, both in their eighties, did not attend the trial and are believed to be in Germany, Santini said.
Prosecutors accused the two former officers of leading their engineering corps unit in a two-day rampage in June 1944 against civilians, including women and elderly residents of Falzano di Cortona, south of Arezzo.
The massacre was a reprisal for the killing of two German soldiers and had its most bloody episode when the troops shut 11 people in a farmhouse and then blew up the building.
Stommel and Scheungraber were also sentenced on Thursday to pay compensation to the town of Cortona and to the families of the victims. However, the two do not face any immediate penalties, since in Italy court rulings go into effect only once appeals have been exhausted.
Santini said prosecutors had insufficient evidence to prove that those on trial were involved in the massacre. He plans to appeal the sentence.
In a separate case last year in La Spezia, 10 former members of the Nazi 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.
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