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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

U.S., Italy Fail to Agree on Slaying

April 30, 2005|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States and Italy disagreed Friday in the conclusions of a joint investigation into the slaying of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

U.S. soldiers killed Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari on March 4 when they opened fire on a car heading for the Baghdad airport. He was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers.

U.S. officials say the soldiers followed the rules of engagement in firing on the car as it moved toward a checkpoint and should not be punished. Italy disagrees, and has left open the possibility of pursuing the matter in the courts.

"The investigators did not arrive at shared final conclusions even though, after examining jointly the evidence, they did agree on facts, findings and recommendations on numerous issues," the two governments said in a joint statement issued by the U.S. State Department.

The killing enraged Italy, where Calipari has been hailed as a national hero.

In Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini told reporters, "The Italian government could not be expected to sign a reconstruction of events that did not correspond to our own version of events."

A U.S. Army official said this week that Italy was disputing two issues in the report: the car's speed as it approached the checkpoint and the nature of communications between the Italians and American forces before the shooting.

Italy's government has said the Italians were driving slowly, received no warning, and advised U.S. authorities of their mission to evacuate Sgrena from Iraq.

The Army says the car was speeding toward the checkpoint and that U.S. soldiers tried to get it to stop by using hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and firing warning shots, and then shot into its engine block when it did not stop.

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