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The Prosecutor v. Herbert Kappler

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Court Supreme Military Tribunal of Rome, Italy
Decision title Sentenza
Decision date 25 October 1960
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords crimes against humanity, murder, extradition, judicial cooperation, World War II
Other countries involved
  • Germany
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Procedural history

On 20 July 1948 the Military Territorial Tribunal of Rome sentenced Kappler to life imprisonment for murder and fifteen years for extortion to the detriment of Jewish Community. 

Subsequent appeals lodged by Kappler were rejected. Because of Kappler’s poor health he was moved to a military hospital in 1976 from which he escaped a year later with his wife’s assistance. (See the appeals judgments: Tribunale supremo militare di Roma Sentenza, 25 October 1952; Corte suprema di Cassazione Sentenza , 19 December 1953)

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Related developments

See also: Decreto del Magistrato di Sorveglianza, 9 December 1976; Tribunale militare territoriale di Roma Morte del condamnato, 21 July 1978

Kappler finally died on 9 February 1978 in Soltau, Germany, after West German authorities refused to extradite him or try him for further crimes owing to his poor health.

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Legally relevant facts

Herbert Kappler was a lieutenant colonel of the SS and Chief of Police in Rome during World War II. Kappler was arrested by British authorities and turned over to the Italian government in 1947. Kappler was put on trial charged with murder and extortion against the Jewish community, related to two particular incidents in Rome.

On 26 September 1943, Kappler ordered the presidents of the Italian Jewish Community and the Jewish Community of Rome to deliver fifty kilograms of gold within thirty six hours otherwise two hundred Jews would be seized and deported to Germany. On 24 March 1944, Kappler ordered the execution of 335 Italians as reprisal for an attack carried out in Rome in which 33 German soldiers were killed. Kappler personally organised the reprisal killings, set out the method of execution and the place (the Ardeatine Caves), as well as selecting those Italians to be killed. The victims were led by SS captains, Erich Priebke and Karl Hass to the Ardeatine Caves where they were put to death. Kappler personally shot at least once.

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