Italy disputes U.S. shooting account

Foreign minister makes suggestions of deliberate attack

By Sinclere Lee

(BNW) Atlanta
–The US government said that it was an unfortunate accident, but that sounds like the same lie they tell when they kill an innocent Black in the streets of this country. It won't work this time!

The Italian journalist who was shot said that the US troops tried to kill her because the US doesn't like negotiating with kidnappers. Giuliana Sgrena, the female journalist who saw shot by US troops, wrote, "Our car was driving slowly," and "the Americans fired without motive." Somebody is lying!

She described a "rain of fire and bullets" in the incident. And, if the American actions in Iraq are anything like what the cops do in the Black community in America, I believe Giuliana Sgrena is right and our government is lying like they lie on Black people in this country everyday. These are some good lying crackers in America, and they will tell a lie before a cat can lick its ass!

The U.S. military said Sgrena's car rapidly approached a checkpoint Friday night, and those inside ignored repeated warnings to stop.

Troops used arm signals and flashing white lights, fired warning shots in front of the car, and shot into the engine block when the driver did not stop, the military said in a statement.

But in an interview with Italy's La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said "there was no bright light, no signal."

Italy's foreign minister has openly disputed the U.S. military's account of the shooting death of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq.

Gianfranco Fini ruled out suggestions that U.S. forces might have deliberately targeted the Italians, but he told parliament Tuesday there were discrepancies between Italian and U.S. accounts.

Fini restated Rome's demand for a full explanation from the Americans, putting fresh pressure on Washington. U.S. President George W. Bush has promised Italy a full investigation would be conducted.

"It was certainly an accident, an accident caused by a series of circumstances and coincidences," Fini said.

"But this doesn't mean, in fact it makes it necessary, to demand that events are clarified, to ask for explanations of the points that are still unclear, to identify those responsible, and if people are to blame then to request and obtain that the guilty parties are punished," he said.

Fini's comments come a day after Italy held a state funeral for agent Nicola Calipari, 50, who was killed when a convoy carrying freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena was hit by a barrage of gunfire from U.S. troops when it did not stop at a checkpoint Friday night.

Fini gave parliament a detailed reconstruction of the incident, insisting the Italians had been driving slowly and had received no warning before the attack -- counter to suggestions by U.S. authorities.

"The car was traveling at a velocity that couldn't have been more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour," Fini said, adding there were no attempts to stop the car as indicated by the U.S. military.

Immediately after the fatal shooting, U.S. soldiers apologized profusely to Sgrena and an unnamed intelligence officer who survived the gunfire, Fini said.

He said Calipari, an experienced officer who had negotiated the release of other hostages in Iraq in the past, "made all the necessary contacts with the U.S. authorities," both with those in charge of airport security and with the forces patrolling areas next to the airport.

"The government has a duty to point out that the reconstruction of the tragic event that I have set out and as emerges from the direct account of our secret service official who was with Dr. Calipari does not coincide, totally, with what has been said so far by the U.S. authorities," Fini said.

Earlier Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said the checkpoint where Calipari was killed had been set up for the passage of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq on the road to the Baghdad airport.

Ambassador John Negroponte had been expected to pass the Baghdad-area checkpoint a short time later, the official said.

Sgrena, a journalist, had just been freed by kidnappers after a month in captivity and was being escorted by Italian security agents to safety.

Calipari, 50, threw his body across Sgrena when U.S. troops opened fire.

The details surrounding the incident have been widely disputed by Sgrena, who said there was no checkpoint.

"Our car was driving slowly ... the Americans fired without motive," Sgrena said.

In an article published Sunday in her communist newspaper, Il Manifesto, Sgrena described a "rain of fire and bullets" in the incident

The U.S. military said Sgrena's car rapidly approached a checkpoint Friday night, and those inside ignored repeated warnings to stop.

Troops used arm signals and flashing white lights, fired warning shots in front of the car, and shot into the engine block when the driver did not stop, the military said in a statement.

But in an interview with Italy's La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said "there was no bright light, no signal."

And Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from "a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight."

It remains unclear whether U.S. officials knew that the Italian security team would be taking Sgrena to the airport.

Sgrena was slightly wounded in the shoulder and underwent treatment at a U.S. hospital in Baghdad. She is now back in Rome, getting follow-up treatment at the city's military hospital.

Sgrena has promised Calipari's widow she would find out why they were attacked.

CNN's Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci said Sgrena was not ruling out the possibility that the Americans may have targeted her on purpose because the U.S. opposed negotiating with kidnappers.

The White House on Monday rejected the suggestion, as did Italy's foreign minister.

"I think it's absurd to make any such suggestion that our men and women in uniform deliberately targeted innocent civilians. That's just absurd," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday.

Italian media suggest a ransom was paid for her release, but government officials are not commenting on the reports. The Italian government has paid ransoms to free other hostages in the past.

An autopsy found Calipari, an experienced negotiator who had previously secured the release of other Italian hostages in Baghdad, was killed by a single shot to the head and died instantly.

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