Trial of US soldier for Calipari murder in Iraq begins

Giuliana Sgrena after military attack on herFrom the BBC:

US soldier’s murder trial begins

The trial of a US soldier charged with the murder of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq in March 2005 has begun in a Rome court.

The soldier, Mario Lozano of the 69th Infantry Regiment, is not attending the trial, but in Italy the defendant can be tried in absentia.

The agent, Nicola Calipari, was shot dead on his way to Baghdad airport.

Mr Lozano is standing trial charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder. He denies the charges.

He [Mr Calipari] was escorting Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist who had just been freed by kidnappers.

‘Kill line’

As the car approached a road block, US soldiers opened fire.

Calipari, who shielded the journalist during the shooting, was hailed a hero at home, awarded Italy’s top bravery award and given a state funeral attended by tens of thousands.

Giuliana Sgrena on this case: here.

2 thoughts on “Trial of US soldier for Calipari murder in Iraq begins

  1. 2007-04-17 13:01
    U. S. soldier in Iraq murder trial
    Hero Calipari died in ‘friendly fire’ after freeing hostage
    ROME (ANSA) – The trial began here Tuesday of Mario Luis Lozano, a United States soldier accused of murdering an Italian secret agent in a controversial ‘friendly fire’ incident in Iraq in 2005.

    Lozano, who will not attend the trial, is accused of firing on an Italian car carrying Italian Military Intelligence Service (SISMI) officer Nicola Calipari and a released hostage to Baghdad airport late on March 4, 2005.

    Calipari died shielding hostage Giuliana Sgrena, who was slightly wounded. He became a national hero.

    As the trial opened, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said he was speaking “for all Italian citizens” in hoping that the trial would establish who was responsible for Calipari’s death.

    Asked if the trial would affect relations with the US, he said “the Americans have a different point of view and consider the episode closed” while Italy was happy that the Italian judiciary had been able to “investigate freely”. The trial was adjourned until May 14 after Sgrena’s lawyer filed a request to examine a defence contention that the US Department for State was not aware it had also been cited in the case.

    Earlier, Lozano’s lawyer said his client would probably not recognise the jurisdiction of the court.

    Sgrena, a journalist for the leftwing daily Il Manifesto, reacted angrily to the argument that the Department of State might not be aware it was a co-defendant.

    “It’s a lie,” she said.

    “I was in America last June and I read in the papers statements from Lozano’s mother challenging the charges against her son”.

    “I find it disgraceful that there are forces in an ally (of Italy) like the United States who want to interfere with this trial”.

    In the run-up to the trial, Lozano told New York dailies that he had respected the rules of engagement in the incident – as found in a US inquiry which Italian prosecutors contest.

    The Rome prosecutors have argued that the case is “political” because several agents of the Italian state are involved. This means that Lozano can be tried in absentia, they say.

    The Calipari-Lozano case has strained relations with the US because Washington refused to fully cooperate with the Italian probe into the ‘friendly fire’ shooting.

    In May 2006 the US said it would not give Italy the names of the soldiers manning the roadblock along the so-called Route Irish from Baghdad city centre to the airport.

    Lozano was initially identified thanks to a youth in Bologna who used his computer savvy to uncover the soldier’s name which had been blacked out in a report published on the Internet.


    The report was the result of an unprecedented joint enquiry by US and Italian investigators.

    The joint investigation failed to reach an agreed conclusion, with the American members clearing the soldiers of all responsibility and the Italians blaming the US’s organisation of the roadblock.

    Lozano, 35, has been quoted as saying he was “devastated” after the incident and could not sleep for days.

    He reportedly told a colleague: “I could never intentionally hurt anyone like that”.

    The Toyota Corolla in which Calipari and the other two were travelling came under fire from a temporary roadblock manned by ten US soldiers on their first day of service.

    Ballistic evidence gathered from the car by Italian experts indicated that only one weapon had been used but that it had fired three separate rounds of machine gun fire.

    This led Rome investigators to conclude that it was the intention of the person firing the gun to kill those inside the automobile.

    According to the American investigation, the car was travelling at high speed, about 80kmh, and the driver panicked.

    The US military claimed the driver failed to stop or slow down when soldiers flashed a spotlight, shone a green laser onto the car’s windscreen and fired warning shots.

    The soldiers stuck to the rules of engagement for this sort of situation and therefore no action should be taken against them, the US said.


  2. Pingback: Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena’s letter to Hillary Clinton | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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