Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke dies

Convicted former Nazi SS captain Erich Priebke leaves after attending a mass at a church in northern Rome October 17, 2010.
Image caption,
Erich Priebke was one of the last Nazi war criminals still alive

Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke has died at the age of 100 in Italy, his lawyer has told Italian media.

Priebke was jailed for life in 1998 for his role in the WWII massacre of 335 Italians at Rome's Ardeatine Caves.

But because of his age and poor health, he was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in the capital.

The move caused anger over what some people in the city regarded as conditions that were far too comfortable and lenient.

Priebke was one of the SS officers present during the killing of men and boys at the caves in 1944, in a reprisal attack ordered by Adolf Hitler for the killing of 33 German soldiers in Rome by resistance fighters.

He was among the officers who oversaw the operation to round up victims and transport them to a network of caves on the outskirts of the city where they were all shot.

Though Priebke admitted his role in the massacre, he never expressed any remorse and maintained he was following orders.

In July, an association representing families of some of the victims of the massacre renewed calls for Priebke to "find the courage to ask for forgiveness".

He was extradited to Italy in 1994 after he was discovered working as a school teacher in Argentina.

He was tracked down by an American journalist working for ABC News and admitted in an interview his role in the massacre.

Priebke's lawyer, Paolo Giachini, said on Friday that he had left a final video interview as his "human and political testament", but it was unclear what it contained and when it would be released.

Priebke, who had been living in his lawyer's apartment in Rome, was allowed to do his own shopping, go for walks in the park and go out to restaurants in the evening to eat with friends.