70th anniversary of deportation of Rome's Jews

Anniversary occurs amid controversy over Priebke funeral

A series of commemorative events take place in Rome on 16 October, 70 years after more than 1,000 of the city's Jews were deported to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz.

The dawn raid occured on 16 October 1943, when 1,016 Roman Jews, including 200 children, were rounded up in the city's Ghetto district and taken across the Tiber to the Collegio Militare on Via della Lungara. Two days later they were sent to Auschwitz on a sealed train from Tiburtina station. Only six of them were to return to Rome, according to figures on the city hall website.

The commemoration ceremonies take place the day after the controversial funeral of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke was halted amid angry scenes.

Following a city and Vatican ban, an ultraconversative Catholic splinter group known as the Society of St Pius X offered to perform Priebke's funeral on 15 October at its seminary in Albano Laziale, in the Castelli Romani area about 25km south of Rome.

However the ceremony was abandoned as hundreds of anti-fascist protestors clashed with riot police and Nazi sympathisers outside the church. It remains unclear what will be done with Priebke's body which is currently held at the Pratica di Mare military airfield in nearby Pomezia.

Priebke played a key role in the 1944 Fosse Ardeatine massacre in Rome in which the Nazis killed 335 people.

Meanwhile, on 15 October, Italian members of parliament introduced an amendment to Italy's criminal code that would make denying the Holocaust a crime.

Photo. Comune di Roma