ALBANO, ITALY – The funeral of a Nazi war criminal was canceled in Italy late Tuesday after clashes broke out between protesters and far-right activists on the eve of a major Holocaust ceremony.
Catholic breakaway traditionalists from the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X had agreed to hold the funeral of former SS officer Erich Priebke at their seminary in Albano, a town near Rome. But Mayor Nicola Marini and hundreds of local residents turned out to complain about the last-minute decision, following Priebke’s death Friday in Rome, where he had been under house arrest.
The far-right militants, some 30 of whom had gathered outside the religious compound, gave Nazi salutes and fascist chants. Dozens of riot police pushed about 500 protesters back and later fired tear gas after clashing with a few dozen neo-Nazis who attacked with glass bottles and chains.
Tensions were already running high ahead of Wednesday’s 70th anniversary of a raid by Nazi troops that cleared out the city’s historic Jewish quarter.