ANSA reported that Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who was slain in Iraq a year ago, was remembered with the unveiling of a memorial stone at the headquarters of the SISMI secret service.
Nicola Calipari was killed on March 4, 2005. U.S. troops manning a temporary roadblock opened fire on a car which was taking Calipari, together with another agent and released hostage Giuliana Sgrena, to Baghdad airport.
Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi unveiled the memorial at a ceremony attended by Calipari’s widow, Rosa, and their daughter Silvia, House Speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini, Defence Minister Antonio Martino and the joint chiefs of staff. Minister Martino announced that from now on every March 4 will be celebrated as SISMI Day in memory of Calipari.
An unprecedented joint investigation by Italian and U.S. military experts failed to reach a shared conclusion. American members cleared the soldiers of all responsibility while the Italians blamed the U.S.’s organisation of the roadblock. Last December, Rome prosecutors formally placed under investigation the U.S. Marine who had opened fire on Calipari’s car.
Rosa Calipari has now accepted to run next month as an independent on the Democratic Left in order to draw attention to her husband’s case. She has been critical not only of the lack of cooperation from Washington, but also of the inertia of Silvio Berlusconi’s government in demanding answers from the Americans.
The joint investigation concluded that Calipari’s car came under ‘friendly fire’ from a temporary roadblock manned by ten U.S. soldiers on their first day of service. According to the American side, the car was travelling at high speed, about 80kms per hour, and the driver panicked. The U.S. report said that the soldiers stuck to the rules of engagement for this sort of situation and therefore no action should be taken against them.
The Italians involved in the joint enquiry refuted the claim that rules of engagement were respected. They argued that there were no set procedures for the mobile ‘blocking point’ set up by the soldiers.