Argentina Extradites Alleged Nazi War Criminal to Italy
Former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke was extradited from Argentina on Monday to face trial in Italy for his part in the World War II massacre of 335 civilians.
His departure from Argentina came on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Nuremberg war crimes trial.
The 82-year-old Priebke was accompanied by 10 Italian Interpol officers and a military doctor on board the Alitalia jet that arrived in Rome early today. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.
Priebke, who lived in Argentina for nearly 50 years under his own name, has been under house arrest for 17 months since he admitted to ABC-TV that he participated in the killings.
On Nov. 2, Argentina’s Supreme Court ordered Priebke’s extradition, upholding a lower court order that had been overturned by an appeals court. It was only the fourth time Argentina has agreed to return fugitives in World War II atrocities.
Adolf Hitler ordered the killings at the Ardeatine Caves near Rome in March, 1944, to avenge 33 German soldiers slain in an ambush.
Priebke has said his task was to cross out the names of civilians as they were led into the caves for execution, though he acknowledges killing two of the civilians. The victims included 71 Jews, several Roman Catholic priests and a 14-year-old boy, Italian officials have said.
“I was just obeying orders,” Priebke said Sunday in a newspaper interview. “All I knew was that they belonged to the Italian Resistance in some way.”
Priebke spent his last hours in Argentina under guard in his small apartment in Bariloche, an Andean mountain resort about 800 miles southwest of Buenos Aires where he ran a delicatessen. He was accompanied by his family.