US military investigation clears soldiers in shooting of Nicola Calipari

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005 An ongoing US military investigation into the death of the Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari cleared the US soldiers charged. A US official speaking anonymously stated, "The soldiers were all complying with the standard operating procedures for those checkpoints and therefore were not culpable of dereliction of duty in following their procedures," according to the Australian Special Broadcasting Service.

The Italian government has rejected the investigation's findings. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi later apologised for "an unfortunate leak" that suggested the investigation was completed, and assured paliament that the investigation was not yet over.

Giuliana Sgrena, the journalist of Italian newspaper il Manifesto who was injured in the shooting, replied, "Unbelievable. They say soldiers followed only their rules of engagement. But if shooting on a machine that is moving, while USA were informed about it, is following rules of engagement, we must ask ourself what kind of rules they are." For Sgrena now "it's important that Italian Magistracy goes on. But all may suppose that its job will not be so easy".

The report was delayed so that disputes might be solved between the two governments. These disputes included disagreements on how fast the car was going as it approached the checkpoint and if US soldiers knew that the car and passengers would be passing through on that day. Italian officials who participated in the investigation are said to have disagreed with its findings.

US soldiers insisted that the car carrying Sgrena and Calipari to the Baghdad airport was traveling at a high speed and failed to heed warnings to stop. The Italian driver of the car denies he was speeding or that soldiers gave a warning. "It's enough to see the car," Sgrena wrote in il Manifesto. "The front windshield is intact, while the side windows and the one behind are shattered."

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