Probe into Nazi massacre at Sant'Anna di Stazzema, Italy, dropped

Nazi storm troopers
Image caption Nazi soldiers were accused of the massacre in Sant'Anna di Stazzema in 1944

German prosecutors have dropped an investigation into 17 former Nazi soldiers accused of a wartime massacre in Italy, citing lack of evidence.

The men were accused of taking part in a massacre of more than 500 civilians in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema in 1944.

But a court in Stuttgart said it could not prove the men, who were part of an SS unit, played a role in the deaths.

The decision brings to a close the 10-year investigation into the massacre.

The 17 men, eight of whom are still alive, were part of the 16th SS Reichsfuehrer division of the German army deployed in Italy during the war.

In 2005 an Italian court convicted 10 officers from the division in absentia of taking part in the massacre, which Italian authorities said left 560 civilians dead, including more than 100 children.

But German prosecutors said they were unable to prove that any of soldiers still alive were guilty of murder or accessory to murder - the two charges on which the statute of limitations has not run out.

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