Results 1 to 2 of 2
04-17-07, 10:04 AM #1
U.S. soldier on trial in Italy for Iraq killing
U.S. soldier on trial in Italy for Iraq killing
By Phil Stewart
Tuesday, April 17, 2007; 7:54 AM
ROME (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier went on trial in absentia in Italy on Tuesday accused of killing an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq, but his lawyer said his client would reject the court's jurisdiction.
After preliminary motions, it was adjourned until May 14.
Mario Lozano, from the U.S. Army National Guard in New York, denies wrongdoing in firing at Nicola Calipari's car when the agent was escorting a newly freed hostage to Baghdad airport in 2005. He says the driver ignored warnings to slow down or stop.
He is being tried in absentia because Washington has ruled out handing him over and his lawyer, Alberto Biffani, indicated his client could formally reject the Italian court's authority.
"Of course, Mr. Lozano will reject that this court has jurisdiction in this case," Biffani told reporters.
The U.S. and Italian governments said the shooting was an accident, but an Italian judge charged Lozano with murder and two counts of attempted murder of those in the car.
His trial began in a courtroom inside Rome's maximum security prison, Rebibbia, the largest in the Italian capital. Seven empty cages flanked the left side of the courtroom, normally used to hold high-security defendants.
"It's worse for him if he does not come," said Franco Coppi, the lawyer representing Calipari's widow Rosa.
The prosecution reacted with open disdain when Biffani claimed that his client had no formal knowledge of the case against him, especially following Lozano's recent interviews with U.S. media in which he defended his actions.
"This is a statement that we consider an insult to our intelligence," Coppi said.
The case has strained bilateral ties. Although Rome agreed the killing was an accident, it has also criticized the U.S. military for placing inexperienced troops at a poorly set up roadblock and the government supports the trial.
"The Americans have a different point of view. They consider the case closed and that there is no one to blame," said Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.
For the freed hostage, reporter Giuliana Sgrena, the trial showed U.S. troops could be held accountable for their actions. She was wounded in the shooting and is suing for damages.
"We have demonstrated we can break this immunity that normally American soldiers have been guaranteed all over the world," Sgrena told Reuters television.
Lozano angered Sgrena and Calipari's widow last week by defending the shooting.
"If you hesitate, you come home in a box -- and I didn't want to come home in a box. I did what any soldier would do in my position," he was quoted as saying by the New York Post.
The trial is one of the biggest in Italy involving U.S. military since a low-flying Marines plane cut an Italian ski lift cable, killing 20 people in 1998. A U.S. military court later cleared the pilot of manslaughter.
(Additional reporting by Silvia Aloisi, Antonio Denti and Cristiano Corvino)
04-17-07, 02:21 PM #2
US marine's murder trial in 'friendly fire' shooting opens in Rome
by Gina Doggett
US marine Mario Lozano went on trial in absentia in Rome on Tuesday for shooting dead a high-ranking Italian military intelligence officer in a "friendly fire" case that is far from settled in the minds of many Italians.
The trial was adjourned for technical reasons, at the request of both sides, to May 14.
Lozano's lawyer Alberto Biffani asserted that his client was unaware of the proceedings. The plaintiffs' lawyer, Alessandro Gamberini, said for his part that procedures to seek damages from Donald Rumsfeld, who was US defence secretary at the time of the incident, were not yet complete.
Lozano, 37, is charged with voluntary homicide in the death of Nicola Calipari, as well as two counts of intent to kill Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and Andrea Carpani, a secret service agent who was driving the car fired on by Lozano.
Both Sgrena and Carpani were wounded in the shooting at a mobile checkpoint on the Baghdad airport road on March 4, 2005.
The US military exoneration of Lozano has never been accepted by the Italian government, the source of severe strain between Washington and Rome.
Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Tuesday that he expected a verdict in the case to "establish how the events occurred and who carries responsibility for what happened," the ANSA news agency reported.
Speaking to Italian journalists while on a visit to Algiers, D'Alema said "all Italian citizens (want) the truth to be ascertained with this trial."
Biffani hailed the adjournment of the trial, which is being held at a maximum security prison on the outskirts of Rome, saying it would "give the defence precious time to study the case."
Public prosecutor Franco Ionta said repeated efforts had been made to notify Lozano of the trial. "The only response was that for the United States the case is closed," he said, adding, however: "It's unthinkable that Lozano was unaware of the trial."
Franco Coppi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, accused Lozano of "arrogance" and dismissed the idea that the defendant was unaware of the proceedings as "an insult." Sgrena, speaking to AFP after the hearing, called the assertion "ridiculous."
Coppi questioned how an accused could "remember to name a defence lawyer at the last moment."
A state-appointed lawyer was initially assigned to Lozano, but he retained Biffani early this month.
Lozano, who was indicted in February, broke two years of public silence this month when he told the New York Post that the Italians' vehicle was moving at speed towards his patrol.
"If you hesitate, you come home in a box. ... I did what any soldier would do in my position," Lozano told the newspaper. "You have a warning line, you have a danger line, and you have a kill line. Anyone inside 100 metres (109 yards) is already in the danger zone ... and you've got to take them out."
Sgrena alleges that Lozano has been ordered to lie about the chain of events.
The incident occurred near Baghdad airport shortly after Calipari negotiated the handover of Sgrena from kidnappers who had held her for a month in Iraq, where the pro-US government of Silvio Berlusconi had contributed troops to the US-led coalition despite overwhelming opposition at home.
Both sides agree that Lozano fired on the car carrying Calipari and Sgrena with Carpani at the wheel.
Italian ballistics experts concluded that Carpani was driving at a normal speed and that the US unit gave no warnings before opening fire. The Italian probe also found that there were no signposts warning of the checkpoint.
The US military insists that Lozano followed the rules of engagement and that the Italians' car was speeding towards his unit when he opened fire.
The hearing was attended by Calipari's widow Rosa, elected to the Senate last April, and by Sgrena, who told AFP: "The fact that Lozano hired the lawyer is a first recognition that there is a trial."
Both Rosa Calipari and Sgrena are suing for damages.
The case is one of several defence-related issues straining bilateral ties.
An Italian judge in February ordered 26 Americans to stand trial for the kidnapping of Osama Mustafa Hassan, better known as Abu Omar, on a Milan street on February 17, 2003. He was taken to a high-security prison outside Cairo where he says he was tortured.
Still fresh in many Italians' minds is a 1998 incident in which a low-flying US Marines plane cut an Italian ski lift cable, killing 20 people. The United States cleared the pilot of manslaughter.
Users Browsing this Thread
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)