Jerusalem- The Simon Wiesenthal Center today criticized the delays in the investigation of former SS Untersturmfuehrer Gerhard Sommer who played an active role in the 1944 massacre of more than 300 Italian civilians in the village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema in Tuscany, and whose case was officially closed today because he was categorized as medically unfit to stand trial.
In a statement issued here today by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted that Sommer, who was not identified by the German media, had been under investigation in Germany since 2002, and had been convicted and sentenced (in absentia) in Italy to life imprisonment for his role in the murders.
According to Zuroff:
"The fact that the prosecutor in this case issued a statement indicating that had Sommer been prosecuted, he would "in all probability been charged with 342 cases of cruel murder with reprehensible motives," clearly underscores the failure of the Hamburg state prosecutors to complete this case early enough to insure that the accused could be prosecuted and punished for his heinous crimes. The fact that he was able to elude justice despite the fact that he has been under investigation for thirteen years, is yet another stain on the poor record of the German judiciary, despite the praiseworthy efforts currently being invested in Nazi war crimes investigations by the Zentrale Stelle and local prosecutors."
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.