Funeral cancelled for Nazi war criminal

(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES)

(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES)

The funeral of a Nazi war criminal was cancelled at the last minute in Italy this week after protesters broke into the compound where the ceremony was taking place.

More than 500 people took to the streets of the town of Albano Laziale, in central Italy, to prevent the burial of Erich Priebke, shouting “executioner” and “murderer” as the coffin was transported to a Society of St Pius X seminary for the funeral.

The former German SS officer died on Friday aged 100. He had been serving a life sentence under house arrest in Rome for his role in killing more than 300 Italian civilians in 1944 on Hitler’s instructions.

Following his death last week, the Vatican issued a ban on any Catholic church in Rome holding his funeral.

The government in Argentina, where Priebke had escaped to after the war, also refused to bury him, as did his hometown of Hennisgsdorf near Berlin.

But the schismatic Society of St Pius X offered to hold the ceremony, ignoring local outrage and protest.

The Catholic conservative group broke away from the Vatican in 1970 after opposing its reforms. It has often been accused of having far-right, antisemitic views, and caused a furore in 2009 when one of its bishops, Richard Williamson, claimed that the Nazis killed less than 300,000 Jews.

Priebke was deported from Argentina to Italy in 1944 after admitting his role in the war. The debate continues over what to do with his body.

Last updated: 12:19pm, October 17 2013