Nazi Erich Priebke to be buried 'in secret location'

Anti-fascist demonstrators shout as the hearse carrying the coffin of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke arrives in Albano Laziale near Rome
Image caption A funeral for Erich Priebke was halted on Tuesday amid angry protests

Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who died under house arrest in Rome last week, is to be buried in a secret location, his lawyer has said.

On Wednesday, his coffin was seized by the Italian authorities and taken to a military base near Rome after a funeral was halted amid angry protests.

Rome city authorities had banned any burial in the city.

Priebke was extradited from Argentina and jailed for life in Italy over the 1944 killing of 335 civilians.

"The agreement satisfies the family and ethical and spiritual requirements," said his lawyer, Paolo Giachini, adding that there would be "a small ceremony for relatives" following the funeral.

The whereabouts of the burial are unknown but Mr Giachini is reported as saying that "we had contacts to bury the coffin of Priebke both in Italy and in Germany".

A cardiologist has offered to have the remains interred in his family's grave near Verona, but the local mayor is said to be against the proposal.

The German embassy in Rome has said it had not been contacted by Priebke's lawyer and had no request for a burial, the Italian news agency Ansa quoted embassy sources as saying.


Argentina - where Priebke lived for nearly 50 years before being extradited to Italy - refused to fulfil his wish to have his body repatriated for burial beside his wife.

Priebke's hometown in Germany also refused to take the body, over fears that any place of burial could become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Image caption In a video released after his death, Erich Priebke maintained that he was following orders from Hitler

He was one of the SS officers overseeing the killing of men and boys at Rome's Ardeatine Caves in March 1944, one of the worst massacres in Italy during World War II.

In a reprisal for the killing of 33 German soldiers in Rome by resistance fighters, 335 Italian civilians were shot dead.

Though Priebke admitted his role in the massacre, he never expressed any remorse and maintained he was following orders.

In a video message recorded before he died - and released posthumously by his lawyer - the former SS officer repeated the defence he had given at his war crimes trial.

He said he had received direct orders from Adolf Hitler to carry out the massacre.

Priebke was extradited in 1994 after investigative journalists from US television network ABC News tracked him down in Argentina.

In 1998, he was sentenced to life in prison. However, he pleaded that he was too old and sick for jail, and was soon allowed to switch to a regime of house arrest.

The Vatican issued an unprecedented ban on holding Priebke's funeral in any Catholic church in Rome, but a Catholic splinter group, the Society of St Pius X, tried to hold a ceremony on Tuesday outside the city, in Albano Laziale.

More on this story