Post-war evidence of dogged British policeman used to convict three Nazis of civilian massacre in Italy

Witness statements taken by a British policemen 67 years ago following a Nazi wartime atrocity have helped convict three former German soldiers of multiple murder.

Sgt Charles Edmonson's papers relating to the war crime were sold by an auction house last year to a Chinese collector but Italian prosecutors managed to track them down and use them in their court case.

The chilling account led to life sentences for three former Nazi soldiers - captain Ernst Pistor, 91, Marshall Fritz Jauss, 94, and Sergeant Johan Robert Riss, 88.

Judge Giovanni Pagliarulo also ordered the German government to pay damages of £12million to the relatives of 184 civilians, mainly old men, women and children - including a two-year-old - gunned down in Fucecchio Marshes near Florence in August 1944.

Today prosecutor Marco De Paolis said: 'The statements from Charles Edmonson formed part of the case and helped bring these three war criminals to justice after 67 years....

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