Italy orders DNA tests to identify WWII victims

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 25, 2010 07:40 hrs

/AKI) Italy has ordered DNA tests on 12 unidentified victims killed by Nazi troops in one of the deadliest massacres during World War II.

The tests were ordered Wednesday by Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa to identify the 12 among 335 Italians killed in the infamous Ardeatine Caves massacre of March 24, 1944. Though the identity of the others were known, the names of the 12 have never been known.

La Russa gave the order during a ceremony to mark the 66th anniversary of the massacre.

The 12 bodies have until now remained in unmarked graves at a mausoleum in Via Ardeatina.

In 1944, at the Ardeatine Caves, German troops were ordered to kill 10 Italians in retaliation for the killing of 33 Nazi soldiers in Rome.

The Nazis also killed five extra Italians kidnapped by mistake to ensure there were no surviving witnesses.

The victims' bodies remained hidden in the caves for over a year. They were recovered and buried only after the Italian capital was liberated by the Allies.

The Italian Supreme Court in 1998 sentenced two former SS commanders, Erich Priebke and Karl Hass, to life imprisonment for their role in the massacre.

Hass died aged 92 in a nursing home at Castel Gandolfo near Rome in April 2004. Priebke, now 96, is serving his sentence under house arrest in Rome.



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