Wednesday, April 13, 2005

US Soldiers Cleared in Sgrena Incident

NBC News has reported details of a preliminary report by a joint US-Italian investigation, which will conclude that Nicola Calipari, the Italian secret service agent killed, chose not to coordinate his mission with the US military. From MSNBC
In Italy, agent Calipari was given a state funeral, but the investigation found he himself may have committed a fatal error. He reportedly chose not to coordinate his movements with the U.S. military for fear it would jeopardize his efforts to free the Italian hostage.
The investigation has also found that the friendly fire incident took place just as the US military originally reported: the car carrying Sgrena failed to stop at a US military checkpoint despite flashing lights and warning shots.
Intelligence agent Calipari had just negotiated Sgrena's release from Iraqi kidnappers on March 4 when the two and a driver headed for the Baghdad airport in a compact rental car.

It was dark when the Italians turned onto a ramp leading to the airport road where the U.S. military had set up a temporary checkpoint.

The investigation found the car was about 130 yards from the checkpoint when the soldiers flashed their lights as a warning to stop. But the car kept coming and, at 90 yards, warning shots were fired. At 65 yards, when the car failed to stop, the soldiers used lethal force — a machine gun burst that killed Calipari and wounded Sgrena and the driver.

Senior U.S. military officials say it took only about four seconds from the first warning to the fatal shots, but insist the soldiers acted properly under the current rules of engagement.
The Italians still insist that the car was traveling much slower than the 50 mph estimated by the soldiers. But, given that the soldiers version has been borne out in the other details, it seems likely they are right about this, too.

Giuliana Sgrena, the person whose foolish and irresponsible actions actually caused the entire situation, is disputing the findings.