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Italy to press Germany on conviction of former Nazis

Rome -- Italy will demand that Germany goes after former Nazis found guilty of war crimes by Italian courts, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata said Wednesday.

In October, judges refused to prosecute eight former Nazis who had been convicted in Italy for the 1944 killing of 560 civilians in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, a town in Tuscany.

"We will continue to demand that Germany applies Italian rulings ... I think this is a firm commitment of Italian authorities," Terzi di Sant'Agata said.

   He was speaking at the presentation of a report by Italian and German historians on Nazi atrocities. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was also present.

   Italy has tried dozens of former Nazi officers in absentia. As Germany does not extradite its citizens, the convictions can become effective only if they are tried again at home.

   The report focused on the 600,000-700,000 Italian soldiers who were taken prisoner and deported to Nazi labour camps after 1943, when Italy's Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed and the country switched sides, signing an armistice with the Allies.

It proposed that a memorial should be built in the former labour camp of Berlin's Niederschoeneweide, where many Italians died. It also suggested setting up a permanent Italo-German historical committee and the completion of an archive of Nazi crimes committed in Italy.

"The German government deeply regrets the suffering" of Italian military prisoners, Westerwelle said. "We fully recognize that their fate deserves to be commemorated, future generations must know what happened to them."

Both ministers stressed how their countries managed to put their painful past behind thanks to the European Union, which won the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

Romano Franchi, the mayor of Marzabotto, an Italian town where hundreds of civilians were killed by German soldiers in 1944, said: "We never confused Nazism with the German people."

Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

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