Ariel David / Associated Press Writer – 2006-06-19 23:28:33
ROME (June 19, 2006) — Prosecutors have requested the indictment of a US soldier over the shooting of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Iraq last year, a prosecutor said Monday.
Authorities were seeking the indictment on charges of murder and attempted murder, the official said on condition of anonymity becaUS e of a new law allowing only the chief prosecutor to speak to the media.
Prosecutor Erminio Amelio previoUS ly has identified the US soldier as Mario Lozano. Local newspapers have reported that Lozano is from New York.
Fabrizio Cardinali, Lozano’s court-appointed lawyer, said last week he expected his client would be tried in absentia for murder and attempted murder. Officials at the US Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.
The death of Nicola Calipari by US gunfire strained relations between Italy and the United States, and there was widespread political support in Italy for an investigation.
The agent was heading by car to Baghdad airport on March 4, 2005, shortly after securing the release of an Italian journalist who had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital when he was shot at the checkpoint.
Another agent, who was driving the car, and the journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, were wounded.
Italy and the United States issued separate reports on the incident, after failing to agree on a shared version of events.
US authorities have said the vehicle was traveling fast, alarming soldiers, who feared an insurgent attack.
Italian officials claimed the car was traveling at normal speed and blamed US military for failing to signal there was a checkpoint.
The shooting angered Italians, already largely opposed to the war in Iraq, and led many to step up calls for withdrawing Italian soldiers. The former conservative government of Premier Silvio BerlUS coni — a strong US ally — called repeatedly for an investigation into the killing but insisted the incident would not affect Italy’s friendship with Washington.
Italy’s new, center-left government also said it would not let this case and others interfere in its relations with the United States.
“This involves issues from the past. You can’t intervene in the past. The assessment of responsibility and of possible violations of the law is up to the magistrates,” Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema told The Associated Press last week.
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