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Court Orders Ex-nazi Officer to Serve Time in Rome Hospital

August 8, 1997
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A Rome military court has ordered former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke to serve the remainder of his sentence in a Rome military hospital.

Priebke vowed to fight the ruling, saying in an interview published Thursday in the newspaper Il Giornale, “The decision is abnormal, an abuse of power, an attempt to clean consciences.”

Priebke’s lawyers had tried to have him serve out the remaining term of his sentence at the private home of right-wing activist Paolo Giachini.

Priebke, 84, was sentenced in July to five years in jail for his role in the World War II massacre of 335 Italian men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome. About 75 of the victims were Jews.

It was not exactly clear just how long Priebke has yet to serve. His sentence is being reduced because of time served during his trial and because of his pre-trial detention after he was extradited to Italy from Argentina in November 1995. The military court is expected to rule on this matter in October.

The court ruled Wednesday that Priebke had to leave the Franciscan monastery where he has been under house arrest since last year and move to Rome’s Celio military hospital by Aug. 17.

Under the ruling, Priebke will be able to have one visitor a day in addition to his lawyers, will be able to have access to specified areas of the hospital complex and will be allowed restricted use of the telephone.

“My neuropsychiatrist is completely opposed to my moving to a hospital. He thinks this could have an irreversible impact on my health, which is already suffering,” he told Il Giornale.

The former SS officer also said that he misses his wife, who has remained in Argentina: “The only thing I want to do before dying is embrace her.”

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