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Germany court convicts Nazi officer of 1944 reprisal killings

[JURIST] A German district court on Tuesday sentenced former Nazi army officer Josef Scheungraber to life in prison for the 1944 reprisal killing of 10 Italian civilians. Scheungraber was convicted of 10 counts of murder [Welt report, in German] and one count of attempted murder for ordering soldiers to blow up a barn in Falzano di Cortona, Tuscany, after forcing 11 civilians inside. In reaching the decision, Judge Manfred Goetzl relied on the testimony [AP report] of the attack's sole survivor and that of a former co-worker of Scheungraber's to whom he had previously suggested his culpability for the killings. Scheungraber lawyer Klaus Goebel had argued that Scheungraber was supervising the construction of a nearby bridge at the time of the killings, and said he would appeal the conviction. The 90-year-old Scheungraber will not begin his prison term until after the appeals process is finished.

In 2006, an Italian military tribunal convicted [Reuters report] Scheungraber in absentia and sentenced him to life in prison for his role in the killings. Last month, a German appeals court found [JURIST report] that suspected Nazi Waffen-SS [USHMM backgrounder] soldier Heinrich Boere is medically fit to stand trial for the 1944 murder of three Dutch civilians. In May, another accused Nazi, John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive], 89, was deported [JURIST report] from the US to Germany to stand trial for his alleged involvement in death camps during World War II. Demjanjuk's deportation marked the end a lengthy legal battle [Guardian timeline] centered around whether his age and health would permit him to stand trial. In 1988, Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death by an Israeli court, though the sentence was vacated by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1993.

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