The ongoing saga of the burial of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke continued on Thursday, with his family claiming that his body had disappeared, reports The Associated Press.
Family lawyer Paolo Giachini said that the family had lost track of Priebke's casket on Tuesday night, when they tried to celebrate a funeral Mass for him in a church compound in Albano Laziale south of Rome.
As the funeral was going on, hundreds of angry protesters outside shouted "Assassin!" and "Hangman!". It was interrupted when far-right sympathizers broke into the funeral compound.
At a certain point, Giachini said Thursday, a group of about 30 people entered the compound and took the casket out.
Italian state radio said the casket was taken to a nearby military base. Giachini, however, said he hadn't been able to establish who has the body or where it is, and Italian officials have refused to divulge information about it.
"It's unheard of that a casket can be made to disappear in this country, taken from those who had custody of it in a private place -- a place of worship -- and taking it by force without any order, any notification," Giachini was quoted by The Associated Press as having said. "We want clarity."
Priebke died last week aged 100 while living under house arrest in Rome for a 1944 massacre of 335 people, including 75 Jews, at the Ardeatine caves near the city in retaliation for a partisan attack.
The Holocaust denier, who claimed he was only following Gestapo orders, has caused uproar even in death with an international controversy over his funeral and final resting place.
It was last reported on Wednesday that Italy had asked Germany to deal with Priebke’s burial.
Giachini said he had been in touch with the German embassy for possible burial in Priebke's native land, once the body is located.