Nazi corporal, 90, is 'jailed for life' for central part in 1943 massacre of Italian soldiers immortalised in Captain Corelli's Mandolin

  • Alfred Stork led squad that killed 117 Italian officers on Cephalonia in 1943
  • Massacre inspired 2001 film starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz
  • Stork allegedly admitted being part of 'execution platoon' but the confession was deemed unusable because no defence lawyer was present at time
  • Under Italian law he will not serve time in prison because of his age

The last surviving Nazi officer to take part in the Greek island massacre that formed the backdrop to  'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' has been handed a full life sentence.

Wermacht corporal Alfred Stork was convicted of ordering the slaughter of 117 Italian officers on the Greek island of Cephalonia in 1943.

The senseless slaughter, which continued for days, was immortalised in the bestselling 1994 novel, a love story about a Greek girl and an Italian officer, which became a film starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

Executed: Platoon commander Alfred Stork allegedly ordered the execution of 117 Italian officers of the Acqui Division (pictured) on the Greek island of Cephalonia in 1943

Executed: Platoon commander Alfred Stork allegedly ordered the execution of 117 Italian officers of the Acqui Division (pictured) on the Greek island of Cephalonia in 1943

The killings formed part of a mass reprisal by Nazi troops after Italy changed sides during the war.

In Italian-occupied Cephalonia, the Italian general gave his troops three options, telling them to follow their conscience: fight on with Germany, surrender or resist.

Five thousand Italian prisoners were shot dead after they had surrendered and another 1,300 died in fighting. 3,000 drowned when a ship carrying them to Nazi concentration camps sank.

The bodies of 200 men were tossed down a well, from which they were only recovered and sent back home a few months before former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi visited the island in 2001.

Stork was not present in court for the sentence and in any case would not serve time in jail in Italy because of his age.

THE COVER OF LOUIS de BERNIERES BOOK CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.
Film ' Captain Corelli's Mandolin ' (2001) Actor Nicholas Cage Penelope Cruz

Inspiration: The war-time atrocity forms the backdrop to the bestselling 1994 novel by Louis de Bernieres (left) before it was turned into a Hollywood movie in 2001 (right) starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz

Tragic: The film, and book, follows the exploits of Antonio Corelli, an Italian army captain with the Acqui Division which refused to surrender and fought the Germans for nine days before running out of ammunition

Tragic: The film, and book, follows the exploits of Antonio Corelli, an Italian army captain with the Acqui Division which refused to surrender to the Germans, fighting for nine days before running out of ammunition. Some 1,500 Italian soldiers died in the fighting while 5,000 were massacred after surrendering

Military prosecutor Marco De Paolis said: 'He did not have the courage to maintain his admission of guilt and stayed comfortably in his home in Germany.'

The prosecution was barred from submitting a 2005 confession by Stork because he made it with no defence lawyer present.

In it he allegedly told German prosecutors he was part of two execution platoons that killed the Italians because they were 'considered traitors’.

De Paolis said: ‘All the German soldiers present in Cephalonia, and also Stork, were fully aware that the order received to kill the prisoners was illegal, an order which it was their duty not to obey.’

In his submissions the prosecutor argued that Stork’s guilt is already determined by witnesses who identified his platoon as the executioners.

But he said that the case had been a struggle because fellow officers who are still alive would not incriminate Stork.

'There is a disgusting code of silence,' he said.

Stork deserved the full life term, he said, 'in view of the extreme gravity of the crime, the cruelty with which it was carried out, the total disregard for the victims and the refusal of the accused to cooperate in any way with the courts.'

The reasons for the verdict and sentence will be published in anything up to three months.