A former Nazi officer broke his pelvis trying to flee over a hotel room terrace Friday, hours before he was to testify against another SS officer accused of war crimes.
Karl Hass, 84, a Nazi major in occupied Rome, arrived from Switzerland on Thursday as a prosecution witness against Erich Priebke, accused in a World War II massacre of 335 civilians outside the city.Judge Agostino Quistelli said Friday that the court will hear Hass' testimony Wednesday from his bed in Rome's military hospital.
"The prosecution cannot go without the testimony of Hass. He is in a perfect condition to answer questions," prosecutor Antonino Intelisano told the court.
Although Hass came to Italy voluntarily as a witness, Intelisano said he is investigating the man as a suspect in the massacre.
Hass jumped 15 feet from a second-floor terrace of the hotel, while police guarded the door outside.
Hass was taken to a civilian hospital, where doctors said he was in a good condition. He was transferred to the Celio military hospital, where he will remain for about 40 days, the prosecutor said.
Priebke, 82, is on trial for his role in the March 24, 1944, massacre of civilians in caves near Rome. The killings were ordered in retaliation for a bombing by resistance fighters that killed 32 Nazi soldiers.
The victims were machine-gunned at the Ardeatine Caves, which were then dynamited in an attempt to hide the bodies.
Hass was on the staff of the German Embassy in Rome during the war.