Former Nazis sentenced in Italy

May 26, 2011 at 10:48 AM

ROME, May 26 (UPI) -- An Italian court has sentenced three former German soldiers to life in prison for killing 184 civilians in a World War II reprisal in Tuscany.

The court also asked Germany to pay the families of the victims about $17 million in compensation, ANSA reported Thursday.

Sentenced in absentia were former Wermacht Capt. Ernst Pinstor, 91, ex-Warrant Officer Fritz Jauss, 94, and former Sgt. Johan Robert Riss. All live in Germany.

Prosecutors said they killed 94 mostly elderly men, 63 women and 27 children, including some newborn babies "in cold blood, looking the innocent in the eyes."

During the trial, WWII historian Paolo Pezzino told the court the house-to-house sweep in the village of Padule di Fucecchio between Florence and Pistoia was "not a reprisal but an operation of total desertification."

Rome military prosecutor Marco De Paolis said the former soldiers have "never expressed remorse" in the deaths.

A fourth defendant, ex-Lt. Gherard Deissmann, died during the trial.

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