Italian Journalist Challenges U.S. Report Clearing Soldiers in Iraq Shooting

By: E&P Staff The Italian journalist rescued from hostage-takers in Iraq last month has denounced a U.S. military probe that reportedly absolves American soldiers of responsibility for killing the man who rescued her.

The report, leaked by an army official in Washington last night, asserts that troops generally followed their rules of engagement and should not therefore face charges of dereliction of duty.

Nicola Calipari, a senior Italian intelligence agent, was shot dead on March 4 when U.S. soldiers fired at his car as he took the reporter, Guiliana Sgrena, to Baghdad airport.

In a front page editorial in the left-wing paper she works for, Il Manifesto, Sgrena called on Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, to respond what she called a "slap in the face for the Italian Government." She claimed that the Americans had not listened to either her testimony or that of another Italian agent: "Obviously, our two testimonies given to the American commission were useless. Or will I be charged with perjury?

"The greatest disappointment would be if our authorities were to accept this insult without reacting."

According to The Associated Press, "It is unclear whether the Italians who took part in the investigation would endorse the report, the official said. Italian news reports Monday said they disagreed with the U.S. findings and were refusing to sign it, but a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Rome, Ben Duffy, said, 'We are still hoping for a combined report.'

"If the Italians don't join, the report's credibility would be hurt in Italy, a nation that sent 3,000 troops to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion.

"Soldiers at the checkpoint said that the car was speeding toward them and that the driver ignored warnings to stop. According to the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, the soldiers 'attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and firing warning shots in front of the car. ... When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others.'

"The Italian officer driving the car, as well as the ex-hostage, have insisted that the car wasn't speeding and that the soldiers gave no warning. The group was en route to the Baghdad airport after negotiations led to Sgrena's release.

"The senior U.S. defense official declined to describe any determinations the investigation has made about the speed of the car and other disputed issues."


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