ROME -- Karl Hass, a former Nazi officer convicted for the wartime massacre of 335 Italian civilians in Rome, died yesterday in a rest home where he had been serving a life sentence under house arrest, officials at the home said.
Mr. Hass, 92, had been living at the Garden rest home in the Alban hills near Rome since December 1996. His health had been failing recently, and yesterday morning he had a heart attack, said the Garden's director, Riccardo La Rosa.
The former SS major was sentenced in 1998 to life in prison for killings at the Ardeatine Caves on the outskirts of Rome when the Italian capital was under German occupation during World War II.
He had been spared prison because of frail health and his age, and because he had returned voluntarily from Switzerland after the sentencing.
Also convicted by military court in the same case was former SS captain Erich Priebke. He also is serving a life sentence under house arrest in Rome.
German soldiers rounded up and shot the civilians -- among them 75 Jews -- in retaliation for a Rome bomb attack by resistance fighters that killed 33 Germans. Both Mr. Hass and Priebke insisted at their trials that they had no choice but to follow orders.
Mr. Hass had come to Italy from Switzerland in 1996 at prosecutors' request to testify against Priebke. But he changed his mind and injured himself when he jumped from his hotel balcony in a bid to avoid taking the stand. He was then put under house arrest and later indicted. In a 1997 interview, Mr. Hass told German magazine Der Spiegel that he worked for US Army counterintelligence in Austria and Italy after World War II. During his trial in Rome, investigators determined that Mr. Hass had been receiving his German pension for years despite his role in the Ardeatine slayings.