Investigation into massacre which inspired 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' reopened

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The discovery of the long-lost report has reopened an investigation into the killings which inspired Louis de Bernieres’s book.

The find has raised hopes in Italy that there might finally be some justice for the 6,000 Italian officers and men who were slaughtered by German forces in a savage reprisal for a revolt on the idyllic Greek island of Cephalonia in Sept 1943.

Italian investigators are said to have stumbled across a dispatch allegedly written by a military chaplain, Father Luigi Ghilardini, soon after the massacre, in which he claimed that two German soldiers who had been taken prisoner bragged of their involvement in the mass killing.

“The soldiers ... who had previously been prisoners of ours ... boasted that they shot 170 unarmed soldiers who had surrendered”, the chaplain allegedly wrote.

His account was said to have been found in the Italian army’s archives in Rome by prosecutors who were investigating the alleged involvement in the slaughter of a German officer, Lt Otmar Muelhauser.

The case against him had to be dropped last year when he died at his home in Munich in July, just short of his 89th birthday.

Italian military investigators contacted police in Germany, who discovered that the soldiers, now 86, are still alive.

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