BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- A former Nazi SS captain is refusing to testify before an Italian prosecutor about a massacre in German-occupied Italy, arguing the hearing in Argentina is illegal. Capt. Erich Priebke recently admitted involvement in the 1944 massacre of 335 Italian civilians in the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome, although he maintains he was simply following Hitler's orders. 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 for crimes against humanity and homicide. The former Nazi officer and his lawyer, Pedro Bianchi, met Tuesday with Italian prosecutor Antonion 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 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. 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. ``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,'' Intelisano, the prosecutor, told reporters. BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- A former Nazi accused of taking part in a World War II massacre in Italy broke more than a year's silence Wednesday to proclaim his innocence. Erich Priebke, 82, was arrested in June 1994 after admitting his involvement in the 1944 murders of 335 Italian civilians in the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome. Italy seeks his extradition to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity and homicide. ``I can assure you I am innocent. I feel like the last of the Mohicans as I have no (defense) witness,'' Priebke, a former SS captain, said in an interview Wednesday with the state news agency Telam. He has said he was obeying Adolf Hitler's order, handed down to his superior, Col. Herbert Kappler, that 10 people be executed for each of 32 German soldiers killed in a partisan bombing in Nazi-occupied Italy. Priebke claimed that Kappler's widow had recently called him and said the charges against him were ``madness,'' since her husband had accepted all responsibility. Priebke said his job was to ``erase'' names of victims from a list as they were led ``one by one with their hands tied'' into the caves for execution. The victims included at least 70 Jews, several priests and a 14-year-old boy, Italian authorities have said. Priebke, who admitted in a broadcast interview shortly before his arrest that he shot one person himself, said Wednesday he did not know Jews were present. ``We wanted to oppose (the executions),'' he said. ``But we were given the choice of obeying -- or being part of the list. It was horrific for us.'' Priebke, who described himself as ``small fry,'' has been under house arrest in Bariloche, an Andean resort 1,100 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, where he has lived since coming to Argentina after the war. The former Nazi appeared before an Italian prosecutor Tuesday night but refused to answer questions. ``The Italian's questions were childish,'' Priebke said. Argentina became a safe haven for many Nazis fleeing Europe after the war. Of more than a dozen extradition requests for alleged war criminals
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