Ten ex-SS members convicted in Italy

Participants in Italy's worst WWII massacre tried; court acquits 7 others.

jail cell bars 88 (photo credit: )
jail cell bars 88
(photo credit: )
A military tribunal on Saturday convicted 10 former members of the Nazi SS and acquitted seven others for the 1944 slaughter of more than 700 people near Bologna - the worst World War II-era civilian massacre in Italy, a news report said. The 10 received life sentences, said the Italian news agency ANSA. The defendants, all tried in absentia, are believed to live in Germany. They are one former officer and 16 enlisted personnel of the 16th SS Division. The murder trial was held in a military court in the northern port town of La Spezia. The verdicts were handed down after almost five hours of deliberations, ANSA said. Court officials in La Spezia could not immediately be reached Saturday afternoon. 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 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. In 2002, then-German President Johannes Rau traveled to Marzabotto during a visit to Italy and expressed "sadness, mourning and shame" at the massacre.