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Former Nazi Officer Refuses to Testify in Argentina

August 9, 1995

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke refused to testify Tuesday before an Italian prosecutor regarding a World War II massacre in Nazi-occupied Italy.

``We wanted to hear the facts (about the massacre) from Priebke himself, but he refused to testify because he said the proper judge is in Italy,″ prosecutor Antonio Intelisano told reporters.

Priebke recently admitted involvement in the 1944 massacre of 335 Italian civilians in the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome.

Italy has sought Priebke’s extradition to stand trial. Extradition was granted by a lower court, but that ruling was appealed. The Italians are trying Priebke in absentia.

The former Nazi officer and his lawyer, Pedro Bianchi, met with Intelisano and Argentine Federal Judge Leonidas Moldes.

Moldes, the lower-court judge who ordered Priebke’s extradition, ended the session after Priebke refused to answer the first five of 10 questions submitted by the prosecutor.

``We refused to answer questions and sign the record because these proceedings are illegal,″ Bianchi said.

``When an extradition is requested, the trial stops until the Argentine judicial authorities reach a decision,″ he said in a telephone interview.

Priebke, 82, has been under house arrest since June in Bariloche, the Andean ski resort 1,100 miles southwest of Buenos Aires where he has lived since he came to Argentina after the war.

He maintains he was simply obeying Adolf Hitler’s order that 10 people be executed for each of 32 German soldiers killed in an ambush by resistance forces in Nazi-occupied Italy.

Priebke has admitted drawing up the list of people to be executed, including at least 70 Jews, several priests and a 14-year-old boy. He later said he killed one of them himself.

Italy has charged him with crimes against humanity and homicide.

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