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Nix any Priebke centennial celebrations, Rome Jewish leader urges

ROME (JTA) – The president of Rome’s Jewish community called on authorities to bar any public celebration of the 100th birthday of convicted Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke.

Riccardo Pacifici on Tuesday called on Italy’s president and prime minister, the mayor of Rome and other officials to make sure that a rumored celebration of Priebke’s birthday on July 29 does not take place. Pacifici said the word was out that “many” were intending to “pay homage” to Priebke at the house where he is being held.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino responded by saying he would “personally keep watch” so that no public celebration of Priebke’s birthday is allowed. The president of the Lazio region, where Rome is located, also said no public celebration would be permitted.

Priebke, a former SS officer, is serving a life sentence under house arrest for taking part in the 1944 massacre of 335 Romans, including about 75 Jews, at the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome. He was deported from Argentina and convicted in 1998.

“Priebke is a man who was condemned for war crimes, who has never repented, who has never apologized, who has never had pity for the families of the victims,” Pacifici said in his appeal.

The apparently lax conditions of Priebke’s house arrest have long raised criticism. On Tuesday, the La Repubblica newspaper ran video showing Priebke, accompanied by a caretaker, strolling around his Rome neighborhood in what was described as a daily walk.

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