Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Italy Dismisses US Version of Shooting

Italy dismisses US version:

From News24.com, a South African Web News service and subscriber to AFP, the French news agency, comes this report from Italy. We seem to have all but dismissed this story as an "unfortunate accident," and have deemed any contention that US forces might have in fact targeted Communist journalist Giuliana Sgrena as "absurd." Case closed. But maybe not. Even as we choose to ignore the possible, much of the world wants a comprehensive and independent investigation. That doesn't sound subversive to me. At least it doesn't sound subversive of democracy, although it may sound subversive of totalitarianism.

Rome - Italy's foreign minister Gianfranco Fini demanded on Tuesday that the United States 'identify and punish' those responsible for the shooting of Rome's top intelligence agent in Iraq, Nicola Calipari. Fini dismissed Washington's view that a lack of communication was responsible for the death of Calipari, who died in a hail of gunfire from United States troops as he escorted a freed Italian hostage to Baghdad airport last Friday. Calipari had made 'all the necessary contacts' with US authorities in Baghdad, the foreign minister said.

From CNN.com, more from Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini:

Fini gave parliament a detailed reconstruction of the incident, insisting the Italians had been driving slowly and had received no warning before the attack -- counter to suggestions by U.S. authorities. "The car was traveling at a velocity that couldn't have been more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour," Fini said, adding there were no attempts to stop the car as indicated by the U.S. military.

Also from CNN.com, this account from Sgrena herself:

The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less than a kilometer away...when...I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier. The driver started yelling that we were Italians. "We are Italians, we are Italians." Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain. I didn't know why. But then I realized my mind went immediately to the things the captors had told me. They declared that they were committed to the fullest to freeing me but I had to be careful, "the Americans don't want you to go back." Then when they had told me I considered those words superfluous and ideological. At that moment they risked acquiring the flavor of the bitterest of truths, at this time I cannot tell you the rest.
Meanwhile, Sgrena's boyfriend says that he believe's the Italian journalist's car was targeted for at least two reasons: 1] "The Americans and Italians knew about (Sgrena's) car coming," and 2] "They were 700m from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints." He added, "Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive." This could be a reference to Sgrena's cryptic comment, noted above, "at this time, I cannot tell you the rest."

These contentions are, of course, in absolute contradiction of the American explanation.

Wouldn't the prudent, respectful, diplomatic, and just response be to say that the US is calling for a full investigation, and not to gratuitously label others' suspicions "absurd?"

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