Anger at Calipari report

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

A US army official said a report into the shooting of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari near Baghdad found the US soldiers involved in the incident “were not culpable of dereliction of duty”.

That news sparked anger among Italians, but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did not comment on the report, saying only that the investigation into the shooting was “not concluded”.

He told parliament he regretted “indiscretions” had suggested the inquiry into the shooting was completed, referring to an apparent leak of the report.

Italy earlier summoned Washington’s ambassador to Rome, Mel Sembler, for urgent talks with the premier’s undersecretary Gianni Letta, who is responsible for the intelligence services.

“We’re still talking about it and it’s still possible we can come to a shared result,” a US official in Rome said.

Mr Calipari was shot dead on March 3 when the car in which he was a passenger was fired upon by US soldiers at a checkpoint near Baghdad as he was escorting freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena to safety.

Details released in Washington on Monday by a US army official said a top-level report found the American soldiers were “complying with the standard operating procedures for those checkpoints”.

The official said Italy had balked at endorsing the report, and that the two countries were in disagreement over the speed at which the vehicle approached the checkpoint and the communications between the Italian and American officials before the shooting.

The report has caused anger in Italy, one of Washington’s strongest allies in Iraq, where it has deployed 3,000 troops.

In a front-page editorial in her daily II Manifesto, journalist Ms Sgrena, who was wounded in the shooting, said it was “a slap in the face” and urged a strong reaction from the Rome government.

She said US authorities had taken no note of her testimony and that of another agent who was also wounded in the incident, underlining that both their accounts coincided although they had never met or discussed the shooting.

But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the joint US-Italy report had not yet been finalised.

“My latest information is they have not come to a final agreement on a joint report,” he said.

He also did not confirm whether investigators had cleared the soldier.

“It’s an investigation. It was done together, intimately. And I think that we’ll just have to wait and see what they come out with,” Mr Rumsfeld said.

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