Friedrich Engel, a former Nazi SS officer involved in the massacre of Italian prisoners in World War II, has died. He was 97.
Engel died overnight Feb. 4 or 5, said his wife, Else. She did not give a cause of death. She said his remains have already been buried.
In 2002, a German court convicted Engel of 59 counts of murder and handed him a suspended seven-year jail term for the 1944 shootings in a mountain pass near the Italian city of Genoa.
A federal appeals court said in 2004 that it believed Engel was responsible for the massacre. But it quashed the conviction, saying the lower court had failed to legally prove murder and ruled out a retrial because of the Engel's age.
Engel, known in Italy as the "Butcher of Genoa," acknowledged helping organize the May 19, 1944, shootings in reprisal for an attack on a movie theater in the city four days earlier in which five German sailors died.
However, he denied the murder charge, insisting that the shootings were ordered by Nazi naval officers and that his unit was responsible only for selecting the victims from Genoa's Marassi jail.