Italy seeks indictment of U.S. marine

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nicola Calipari was fatally shot by U.S. troops at a checkpoint in Iraq in 2005

Italian prosecutors have asked a judge to indict a United States soldier for fatally shooting Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari at a roadblock in Iraq a year ago. The shooting occurred when Calipari was escorting the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on her way to Baghdad airport. When their car came under fire from U.S. Marines at a roadblock, Calipari was fatally shot while trying to shield Sgrena, who was only lightly wounded in the incident.

The circumstances of the shooting are a matter of dispute between Italy and the United States. The U.S. military claims that the car was approaching the checkpoint at high speed, when the troops attempted to signal the car with light signals, aiming a green laser at the windshield and warning shots. When the car failed to slow down, the soldiers shot into the engine of the car.

The Italian government claims that there were no warning signs prior to the shootings. They contest that the car was speeding and that it accelerated after the first round of fire. Moreover, they allege that a proper inquiry into the case was impossible since the vehicle was removed and army logs destroyed shortly after the incident.

Italian prosecutors are arguing that the shooting was a "political murder" as Calipari was a civil servant and the shooting damaged Italy's interests. In Italy, murder suspects cannot be tried in absentia unless the murder has political connotations. It is expected to take at least two months for a judge to rule on the indictment request.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment.

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