From La Repubblica, translated by Diego
ROME — Alleged offence: voluntary homicide and attempted homicide.
Defendant’s name: Mario Luis Lozano, 34 year old, married, two daughters, dwelling in Queens, NY, and belonging to NY Army National Guard.
The evening of past 4 March along the Irish route he was, as investigators’ last report asserts, “entrusted with granting the security of BP 541 checkpoint by shooting with his equipment machine-gun against approaching vehicles perceived as threats”.
It was he, at about 8.50 p.m , Baghdad time, to shoot against the Toyota Corolla that was taking to safely the major Andrea Carpani, of the Sismi (Italian military secret service) officer Nicola Calipari and the journalist Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad airport for return to Italy.
Fifty-eight shots, eleven of which hit the car. Only one was fatal: it would have struck the journalist hadn’t Calipari thrown himself on the woman to shelter her from the volley. After about ten months of inquiry, the anti-terrorism pool from Rome Public Prosecutor, made up by the Assistants Erminio Amelio and Pietro Saviotti, co-ordinated by Franco Ionta, has made the most difficult and not obvious at all choice of giving a name and of supposing a guilt against the man that shot towards the car, killing Calipari.
It’s a twist and, Prosecutor’s office underlines, a “proof of autonomy” that might have aftermath in diplomatic relationships between Rome and Washington that yesterday had immediately labelled as “not justified” a new inquiry upon Calipari’s death.
A twist coming after military inquiries, both American and Italian ones, with diverging conclusions, after expert’s reports and by searching for judiciary and investigative proceedings so far new in Italy. As the case is absolutely new: an Italian citizen killed by friendly fire of the American ally in a foreign country, Iraq, and in war.
The choice has been long, difficult, painful and even courageous because after all, Public Prosecutor might have stopped before the wall of silence of the Americans or notified a minor offence such as manslaughter or culpable excess of self-defence.
Two the fundamental points.
The five experts that worked from May to September regarding the Toyota Corolla trying to reconstruct, missing some elements never put at disposal by US authority, the scene of the shooting, have come to the conclusion the past 25 October that “exploding many machine gun shots towards the inside of a car from a distance comprised between 130 and 45 metres, it’s to be considered unquestionably as a conduct fit and directed to provoke the passengers’ death”.
An opposite conclusion to that by the General Vangjel’s inquiry Commission that instead ascribed to the car speed the causes of the “tragic accident”, acquitting all twelve members of the check-point. The Italian experts have agreed with Washington only for the part in which it’s said that “it hah been only one weapon to shoot”, even if in past July some scientific checks, later no longer confirmed, referred to two arms.
The second decisive point, in view of an inclusion in the defendants’ register, dates back to three weeks ago when ROS Carabinieri (the public security forces depend upon Interior Ministry; the Carabinieri, on Defence Ministry; ROS= Special departments) have “identified” the soldier Lozano (the acquisition via Internet of US report from which the omissis had accidentally vanished wasn’t sufficient).
Only that identification happened “by inductive way but on the basis of military reports” has allowed to put the name in the list. Washington, in fact, during these months, has never cooperated with the Italian investigators.
Satisfaction amongst the lawyers.
Franco Coppi, counsel of Rosa Calipari (the widow), had hoped the past days in the notification of the voluntary homicide since “he who shot was aware about his will of killing”.
Alessandro Gamberini, lawyer of Giuliana Sgrena, goes further by saying that “there are still in progress checks to fix the definite number of arms that have shot”.
Counsel’s thesis is that it isn’t only Lozano the responsible. In the uncertainty, the Carabinieri have identified another nine soldiers by name, surname, rank and role at the checkpoint. If enquiry, among the scepticism of many people, comes within a short time to the committal for trial of the soldier, part of the merit will be due to the never shouted but much resolute stubbornness of Rosa Calipari. “I want justice, not vengeance,” the widow has repeated during these months who has always had Quirinale’s backing (Quirinale= President of the Republic’s residence) “The inquiry will have to say in the end why the US ally has shot us”. She has made of it a matter of “legality and defence of the country”. Because “rules must be always observed”. And because “there can’t be high and low category countries”.