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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Executing Italians Civilians Was ‘Terrible’ for the Executioners, Nazi Said Before Death

An Italian-language video interview with Erich Priebke, a convicted Nazi war criminal who died under house arrest in Rome last week, provided to the Italian news agency AGI by his lawyer.

As officials in Italy continue to search for a solution to the problem of where to bury the body of Erich Priebke, a former SS captain who died in Rome last week under house arrest, the voice of the unrepentant Nazi was heard in a video interview released on Thursday by his lawyer.

Reflecting on his life in the undated interview, Priebke said that the wartime massacre of 335 Italian civilians by his unit in 1944 â€" a reprisal for the killing of 33 SS officers by partisans in Rome â€" was “a terrible thing for us to have to do.” According to the German, who lived openly in Argentina for five decades after the war before being returned to Italy to face justice in the 1990s, the fault lay with the partisans. “They carried out the attack knowing there would be retaliation,” he said. “They thought a retaliation by us would trigger a revolution.”

Asked why he had not disobeyed the order, Priebke claimed “it was impossible,” because a fellow officer said that any dissenters would be shot. “Before starting the retaliation,” he recalled, the officer, “told everybody that those were Hitler’s orders, and we had to execute them. Anybody who didn’t want to do that would have had to line up with the victims to be executed, too.”

Priebke’s insistence in what his lawyer called a “video testament” that he was only following orders echoed the on-camera explanation he gave to Sam Donaldson in 1994, when an ABC News crew discovered him living in Argentina, under his own name. “That was our order,” he said in English. “You know in the war, that kind of thing happened.”

An ABC News interview with Erich Priebke, a former SS officer who took part in a wartime massacre of Italian civilians, when he was discovered living in Argentina in 1994.

As my colleague Elisabetta Povoledo reported, almost a week after Priebke’s death at 100, the question of how to dispose of his remains remains unresolved, after various cities in Italy, Germany and Argentina, where he lived for decades, declined to offer a final resting place.

The Italian government denied on Thursday that the secret services were involved in moving the body to a military airport in Rome on Wednesday, after a funeral was halted the day before following fierce protests and clashes in a town just 12 miles from the site of the massacre.

After Outcry, Missouri Rape Case Is Reviewed

A report on the announcement of a review of the Maryville case from KMBC-TV.

After widespread scrutiny on the Internet, officials in Missouri this week called for a review of a case involving the rape of a teenager that prosecutors said they had dropped last year for lack of evidence.

The Kansas City Star newspaper this month published a report based on its seven-month investigation into the case in the town of Maryville. Other news organizations also reported on the case, including KCUR, a public radio station, which published audio links to its interviews with one of the victims and her mother.

The reports describe how in January 2012, two girls, then 13 and 14, had consumed alcohol before going to the home of a local high school football player, who was with friends. An underage boy “admitted he forced” the 13-year-old into sex and was charged in the juvenile system, KCUR reported.

The football player, 17, was charged with a felony for the sexual assault of the 14-year-old girl and a misdemeanor for child endangerment, while another youth had recorded parts of the incident on a cellphone, it reported.

In the audio links, the sheriff, Darren White, described it as a “horrible crime” for which the perpetrators needed to be “punished,” but the Nodaway County attorney, Robert Rice, said “there was not a criminal offense to be prosecuted.”

The charges were later dropped, a decision that has since set off comparisons with the Steubenville rape case in Ohio before it eventually went to trial.

Attention was refocused on case this week after news reports and a campaign by the loosely knit Anonymous collective drew attention to it on Twitter using a #OpMaryville hashtag, similar to what it had done in Steubenville, to bring pressure on the authorities to reopen the case.

The Anonymous video statement on the Maryville case.

In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, Mr. Rice, responding to the Kansas City Star article, said the witnesses had declined to testify and there had been “insufficient evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But on Wednesday, Mr. Rice announced in another statement that after watching a CNN interview in which witnesses, including the 14-year-old victim, “declared their willingness” to cooperate and testify, he asked for another review of the case.

Based on the witnesses willingness to testify, and to uphold the public trust in our criminal justice system, I have asked the court to appoint a special prosecuting attorney to conduct an independent review and determine whether to refile charges.

In a broadcast of their news conferences on Wednesday on KMBC-TV, Mr. Rice and another official reiterated the call for another look at the case and described the impact it was having on Maryville, a city of about 12,000 people.

Greg McDaniel, the Maryville city manager, said: “The city has received a great deal of negative attention related to the fact that the charges were dropped in the case. Every day that goes by without further judicial action or explanation is detrimental to the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Maryville.”

Mr. Rice again said at his news conference that the case had been closed after the witnesses declined to testify, “Their cooperation was not there.”

That claim was disputed by the 14-year-old’s mother in the same broadcast, while the girl who was 13 at the time said in an interview with Al Jazeera America that she told the other boy “no, pushing him away.”

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.