Italy’s foreign minister today accepted that US troops killed an Italian intelligence officer by accident, but disputed Washington’s version of events and demanded a comprehensive investigation.
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini told parliament that the car carrying the intelligence officer and an former hostage to freedom was not speeding and US troops did not order it to stop, contrary to what US officials say.
However, he also dismissed allegations that the shooting on Friday that killed Nicola Calipari was an ambush – a claim made by the released hostage, Giuliana Sgrena.
“It was an accident,” Fini told MPs in Rome. “This does not prevent, in fact it makes it a duty for the government to demand that light be shed on the murky issues, that responsibilities be pinpointed, and, where found, that the culprits be punished.”
Calipari was shot as he headed to the airport with Sgrena, a left wing journalist who had been kidnapped in February. Sgrena and another intelligence officer in the vehicle were wounded.
In Baghdad, the US-led multinational force ordered a follow-up investigation to be led by US Brigadier General Peter Vangjel, and said the probe was expected to take three to four weeks.
Italian officials were invited to participate, the command said.
“The car was travelling at a speed that couldn’t have been more than 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour,” Fini said. He said that a light was flashed at the car after a curve and that the gunfire – lasting 10 or 15 seconds – started immediately afterward, disputing US military claims that several attempts were made to stop the car.