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The Conflict in Iraq

Italy to Step Up Inquiry Into Agent's Death in Iraq

May 01, 2005|From Reuters

ROME — Italy asked its state prosecutors Saturday to step up their probe of the killing of an Italian intelligence agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, after the United States and Italy failed to agree on the conclusion of a joint investigation.

The dispute over the shooting of Nicola Calipari in Baghdad on March 4 has strained ties between the two allies and prompted fresh criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's staunch support for the war in Iraq.

Berlusconi said the dispute would not do any lasting damage to the traditionally warm ties between Italy and the U.S.

"The basis of our friendship cannot be questioned," he told reporters Saturday.

Calipari was killed when U.S. soldiers opened fire on his car, which was heading toward Baghdad airport. He was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers.

U.S. officials released a report on the shooting Saturday, confirming their findings that the soldiers followed the rules of engagement in firing on the car as it moved toward a checkpoint and should not be punished.

Italy has disputed this, and prosecutors in Rome opened a murder investigation last month into the death. Calipari is hailed as a hero in Italy for shielding Sgrena from the gunfire.

"As far as Italy is concerned, it will be up to the judiciary to do everything it can, obviously with the support of the government," Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said after the allies announced that they could not agree on the findings of the joint investigation.

Three Rome prosecutors working on the case will interview this week the Italian diplomat and agent who took part in the joint investigation.

A team of 18 forensic scientists will begin an examination of the Toyota Corolla in which the Italians were traveling.

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