Rome -

An Italian court on Thursday confirmed on appeal a life sentence for two former Nazi officers who were found guilty of a wartime atrocity.

Fritz Jauss, 95, and Robert Johann Riss, 91, were found responsible for the 1944 killings of 184 civilians in Padule di Fucecchio, Tuscany.

The appeal court quashed the decision by first instance judges forcing the German government to compensate the relatives of the victims with 13.5 million euros (17.3 million dollars). This was because the International Court of Justice in March granted Germany legal immunity from lawsuits in foreign courts by victims of Nazi crimes seeking compensation.

Two other elderly former Nazis, Ernst Pistor and Gerhard Deissmann, were handed life sentences in the first instance ruling last year but died before the appeal judgement was delivered.

The Italian convictions are symbolic, as Germany does not extradite its citizens.

In October, a diplomatic row erupted between Italy and Germany when a German court found insufficient evidence to prosecute eight former Waffen SS officers who had already been sentenced in absentia in Italy for another Nazi massacre in the town of Sant'Anna di Stazzema.

Under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy was an ally of Nazi Germany. After Mussolini was deposed and Italy switched sides in 1943, Germany invaded the country and fought savagely against both partisans and the advancing Allies. - Sapa-dpa