Monday, June 19, 2006


American GI's Indictment Sought in Italy

Associated Press Writer
Published June 19, 2006, 12:41 PM CDT

ROME -- Italian prosecutors requested the indictment of a U.S. soldier Monday in the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad -- a case that saw the agent mourned as a national hero.

Authorities were seeking the indictment on charges of murder and attempted murder, said one of the prosecutors, who asked that his name not be used because a new law in Italy allows only the chief prosecutor to speak to the media.

The fatal shooting of Nicola Calipari on March 4, 2005, angered Italians, already largely opposed to the war in Iraq. The former conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi -- a strong U.S. ally -- called repeatedly for an investigation into the killing but insisted the incident would not affect Italy's friendship with Washington.

Italy's new, center-left government also has said it would not let this case and others get in the way of good relations between the countries.

"This involves issues from the past, you can't intervene in the past, the assessment of responsibility and of possible violations of the law is up to the magistrates," Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told The Associated Press.

The prosecutor investigating the Calipari case said it would be at least two months before a judge rules on the indictment requests. He said prosecutors planned to argue the U.S. soldier had committed "political murder," because Calipari was a civil servant and his slaying damaged Italy's interests.

Italian law does not allow foreigners charged with killing Italians abroad to be tried in absentia unless the murder has political connotations, the prosecutor said. Magistrates have said they would not seek the soldier's arrest for the time being.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment.

Calipari was shot at a checkpoint while heading by car to the Baghdad airport shortly after securing the release of an Italian journalist who had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital.

Another agent, who was driving the car, and the journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, were wounded.

Italian prosecutor Erminio Amelio, who identified the U.S. soldier as Mario Lozano, said last week that he and his colleagues had wrapped up the investigation into the incident.

Fabrizio Cardinali, Lozano's court-appointed lawyer, said Monday he had yet to read 2,500 pages of documents related to the case before he could formulate a defense strategy. American newspapers have reported that Lozano is from New York.

Italy and the U.S. issued separate reports on the incident, after failing to agree on a shared version of events.

U.S. authorities have said the vehicle was traveling fast, alarming soldiers who feared an insurgent attack. Italian officials claimed the car was traveling at normal speed and blamed U.S. military for failing to signal there was a checkpoint.

In another case, Italian prosecutors are trying to extradite 22 purported CIA agents in the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan.

In 1998, a judge threw out a manslaughter case against the crew of a U.S. Marine jet that severed a ski gondola cable in the Alps, killing 20 people. The judge ruled that Italian courts lacked jurisdiction under a NATO treaty.

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