Sunday, March 6, 2005
Italian 007 shot by US Marines while rescuing hostage
Pier Scolari, Giuliana Sgrena’s partner is certain of one thing: “Giuliana had some information that the US military didn’t want her to leave Iraq alive”. The day of Giuliana’s arrival in Italy, following a month of captivity, Scolari wishes that it is especially dedicated to the memory of the man who had given his life to protect his companion. And he wishes that there will be total clarification on those tragic minutes that had seen more than 300 bullets shot into the vehicle in which the Italians were travelling.
“Italy doesn’t believe in the American version of how things happened last night in Baghdad”. It is a sort of appeal, directed both at the general public as at the institutions. “I hope that our country has a minimum of pride. The Italian government must provide clarity on this. Otherwise, the USA must have to find the courage to admit that we are all in the hands of frightened adolescents”. But the possibility of an ambush “can not be excluded”, Scolari continues. “I repeat, it’s one of two things: Either weapons have been put in the hands of unprepared and terrorised adolescents or it was an ambush, and according to the dynamics of the fact, that is not to be excluded”.
He then evokes the dynamics of Friday night. For Giuliana, “the last 24 hours have been hellish: first with the relief for the liberation, then the assassination attack of the armoured American tank that shot 300-400 bullets into their car, without any apparent motivation”.
“Nicola Calipari saved the life of Giuliana. He sacrificed himself for her. He is a man of which this nation must be proud of. Calipari was seated next to her when he saw the shots arriving and he covered her and protected her. He sacrificed his life for her”. Scolari said. “Giuliana is well but she is very tried by what has taken place. She told me everything. The hardest moment for her was to see Nicola die in her arms”. Calipari died instantly, a bullet hit him in the head.
“We are faced with the most absolute folly and we are left in the hands of madmen. They have put the lives of everyone at risk. We can’t remain there one minute more,” Scolari said. He then added that “Calipari had taken that particular road very many times and therefore one can start to reason in a certain manner: that the Americans didn’t want the happy ending. This is a good reason to leave Iraq”.
And lastly, the terrible twist. “The American soldiers had impeded the rescue for several minutes and had impeded that anyone at all got near to the car and they told those in the car to disconnect their cellular phones. Guiliana spoke of dozens of bullets, handfuls of them which were on the car seat after the shooting. Shots that certainly weren’t fired against a military armoured jeep, but only against a car…” and the bitter conclusion: “Giuliana had certain information, and for this the USA wouldn’t have let her return home alive”.
Further, “neither the American embassy in Baghdad nor the American military” were informed by the Italians of Sgrena’s release, “even though an American coordinator for hostages had closely cooperated with the Italians on the case”, thus reports a spokesman of the US Department of State in Washington as quoted by the Washington Post.
All of these doubts are shared by the (Italian) secret services as well, who consider the dynamics furnished by the United States as unreliable. The USA spoke of an “error” caused by the speed of the vehicle that Nicola Calipari and Giuliana Sgrena were aboard and of the lack of signalling by the Italian secret services at the American checkpoint. The survivors deny that the vehicle was moving at an accelerated speed.
The Roman court has meanwhile opened an investigation for homicide, while from the United States the “regrets” of President George W. Bush have arrived. The Public Minister (judge) Ionta has already had a preliminary colloquium with Sgrena and will also hear Scolari.