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Nazi, 93, faces PoW murder trial

BERLIN, Germany -- A 93-year-old former Nazi SS leader has been charged with murdering nearly 60 Italian prisoners of war in 1944, German prosecutors say.

Friedrich Engel is alleged to have ordered the killings in retaliation for the deaths of five German soldiers visiting a cinema in Genoa.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Engel, who headed the SS in Genoa, was accused of ordering the May 19, 1944, shooting of 59 Italian PoWs in revenge for an attack on a cinema for German troops four days earlier, The Associated Press reported.

Five German soldiers were killed and 15 injured in the attack.

The detainees from the Marassi prison in Genoa were taken to the Turchino pass outside the city and shot by a marine commando in Engel's presence over a ditch that had been dug by Jewish prisoners, prosecutors added.

Engel has acknowledged that he was "jointly responsible" for the killing, the AP added, but in a letter to a newspaper last year, he wrote that he had never killed anyone and had never given an order to kill.

He has also denied involvement in two other massacres that resulted in 187 deaths.

Italy has pressed for a German trial since attention was drawn to Engel's case by a German television documentary aired in April last year.

An Italian military court in Turin tried and convicted Engel in absentia in 1999, sentencing him to life for war crimes in connection with a total of 246 deaths in mass slayings.

Engel was not extradited to Italy because Germany does not extradite its citizens for crimes committed elsewhere, but tries them at home.

About 20 Nazi war crimes investigations are still pending in Germany.




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