The Italian government formally rejected the results of the U.S. investigation into the “friendly fire” shooting of one of Italy’s top secret service agents by American military during a rescue operation in Iraq.
A report by American military investigators was published last week, in which U.S. investigators determined that the incident was an unfortunate mistake and that the soldiers who fired on and killed Italian Agent Nicola Calipari could not be held responsible because they had followed procedure.
According to the American report, the car in which Calipari and the Italian hostage he had just rescued, Giuliana Sgrena, were travelling was speeding at about 95 Km per hour when they passed an American military check point. Although soldiers signalled it to slow down, the car continued to travel at an accelerated rate and, as procedure dictates, the soldiers then opened fire.
Agent Calipari was shot and killed, Sgrena was wounded by shrapnel, and the driver escaped unscathed.
Italian reports rejected this version of the incident largely based on the differing testimony of eye witness Giuliana Sgrena, who claims the car was not travelling fast at all and that she had not seen any attempt by American soldiers to stop the car before firing.
Giuliana Sgrena is a journalist for the Italian daily, Il Manifesto, and was in Iraq as the paper’s war correspondent. She was kidnapped by insurgents in early February of this year. Nicola Calipari had gone to Iraq as part of a mission to free her from the hostage situation. The operation had been concluded successfully, and Calipari’s death occurred just metres away from the airport where a plane was waiting to return both of them to Italy.
This incident has further increased tensions between the already somewhat strained U.S. and Italian relations. Italy has accused the U.S. of misconduct, and, in turn, the U.S. has accused Italy of performing risky rescue operations without notifying them.