Germans seek aide to alleged killer of Italian Jews

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ROME — German prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for an ex-Nazi who admitted while testifying in the trial of former Nazi Capt. Erich Priebke that he, too, took part in the World War II massacre of 335 Italian civilians.

Italian prosecutor Antonino Intelisano said prosecutors in Dortmund had issued an arrest warrant for former SS Maj. Karl Hass.

Hass, 84, had been presumed dead for years.

But after depositions by Priebke, he was found to be living in Italy. He fled briefly last month to Switzerland, but voluntarily came to Rome to testify in the Priebke trial.

Priebke is on trial before a military court for his part in the 1944 massacre of 335 civilians, 75 of them Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome. He has admitted to drawing up a list of victims, checking it off at the caves and personally shooting two people.

Just hours before Hass was scheduled to appear in court June 7, he tried to escape from his Rome hotel by jumping from a balcony and broke his pelvis.

He was questioned in a special court session held in a military hospital. During questioning, he said both he and Priebke had been ordered to kill the Roman civilians or be killed themselves.

The Priebke trial was suspended earlier this month after accusations were made that one or two of the military judges had already made up their minds to acquit Priebke.

The lawyer for Priebke told an Italian reporter that he has assurances from judges in the trial that the accused Nazi would be acquitted.

In an interview with the Rome daily Il Messagerro, writer Mary Pace, who has been interviewing Priebke in jail for a book, said his lawyer made it clear that his client will go free.

She quoted defense lawyer Velio De Rezze as saying, "`The president [of the judicial tribunal] is with me and [another] judge too. I have a source in the tribunal that keeps me informed of everything.'"

Chief Judge Agostino Questelli has denied any charges of judicial impropriety.

A military appeals court is scheduled to meet in July to decide whether the trial, which began Dec. 8, should go ahead with the same judges or start from scratch.