Three ex-Nazi soldiers were handed life sentences on Friday by a military appeals court in Rome for their roles in the wartime deaths of roughly 400 civilians in Tuscany in 1944.
According to Italian media reports, the three were part of a group of nine former German officials who served in the Hermann Goering division, first convicted in July 2011. The men, now in their 90s, were sentenced to life for their roles in massacres that took place in the Spring of 1944, during which the soldiers planned and carried out the murder of women, children, and invalids.
The sentences were also for massacres carried out in other parts of the Emilia Romagna region and near Arezzo in Tuscany.
The trial began in November 2010 after a five-year investigation. The men were sentenced in absentia.
The charge sheet said the defendants had “command and supervisory functions in the Goering division” and at various levels “contributed to cause the death of many Italian citizens which were not involved in military operations, including women, old people, children and sick people, acting with cruelty and premeditation,” AFP reported.
Of the nine, three have since died and three others were acquitted by the court of appeals on Friday.
Those against whom the life sentences were upheld were Hans Georg Karl Winkler, 90, Alfred Luhmann, 87, and Wilhelm Stark, 92.
Earlier this month, German magistrates decided not to prosecute eight former-Nazi officials for participating in the massacres. After a 10-year investigation, German magistrates concluded that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the surviving eight of 17 former Nazi military officers suspected of having a role in the murder of hundreds of civilians in 1944.
The troops’ commanding officer Generalleutnant Wilhelm Schmalz was captured by American troops in May 1945, he was accused of war crimes, but after five years the charges were dropped.
A report by the British War Crimes Section of the Allied Force Headquarters investigated and verified a number of cases of German reprisals for partisan activity in Italy, committed between April and November, 1944. The report includes descriptions of villages being burnt down and people being put to death by the hundreds as revenge for partisan attacks on German troops. In some cases the Germans would post a notice announcing the reprisal plan, stating that 50 men would be killed for every soldier injured and 100 for every soldier killed.