June 27, 2009 / 12:37 PM / in 10 years

Italy sentences nine SS men for wartime massacres

ROME (Reuters) - A Rome military court sentenced nine former SS men in absentia to life imprisonment on Saturday for the massacre of more than 350 civilians in Tuscany in 1944, as German occupiers fled before the advancing Allies.

The nine men are unlikely to serve their time, as they are all aged between 84-90 and Italy has not enforced such sentences in the cases of other ageing Nazi criminals.

But the president of the region of Tuscany, where the massacres took places in villages like Bardine S. Terenzo and Fivizzano and Fosdinovo districts, said justice had been done.

“This sentence finally brings justice and truth for those who suffered Nazi atrocities in person,” said regional president Claudio Martini. “We were not motivated by revenge, but the need to write a word of truth on this terrible page of history.”

The case was opened after the discovery in 1994 of a file of 695 uninvestigated Nazi war crimes. There were originally 11 men on trial but one died and another was absolved.

The Rome court also ordered Germany to pay a total of 1.25 million euros in compensation to the towns where the massacres took place and to about 50 relatives of the victims.

Some of the victims were tied to trees and fenceposts and shot, then left there with a sign warning: “This is the fate of those who help the partisans.”

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