Court says U.S. soldier can’t be tried in slaying

/ Source: The Associated Press

Italy's top criminal court ruled Thursday that a U.S. soldier cannot be tried for the 2005 slaying of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq.

Spc. Mario Lozano was accused in connection with the fatal shooting of Italian military intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who had been driving to Baghdad airport after securing the release of kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. The journalist was wounded in the shooting at a checkpoint near Baghdad.

Lozano was being tried in absentia on charges of murder and attempted murder.

But the Court of Cassation in Rome on Thursday confirmed a lower court ruling last year that said Italy has no jurisdiction in the case, according to lawyers for the victim and for an Italian who was wounded in the shooting.

Sgrena lawyer Alessandro Gamberini said he respected the top court's decision, but would not rule out the possibility of taking the case to an international body, such as the International Court of Justice.

He said, however, that there probably "isn't much that can be done."

Calipari family lawyer Franco Coppi said the latest court ruling "leaves a bitter taste in the mouth" as it denied "the possibility of better understanding the dynamics of what happened, the how and the why of this death," according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

"We didn't want to gang up on Lozano, but to understand which rules of engagement had been given to him," ANSA quoted Coppi as saying.

The case has been an irritant to Italian-U.S. relations.

Lozano has denied wrongdoing, saying he had no choice but to fire at the fast-approaching car. There was no answer on Lozano's cell phone seeking comment Thursday.

The Italians maintain that he had failed to signal there was a checkpoint, and that Calipari's vehicle, which was driven by another Italian intelligence agent, was moving at normal speed.

ANSA quoted Calipari's widow, Rosa, as saying that she was "deeply pained and disappointed" by Thursday's decision.

"The impotence of the institutions of our country have been made plain today," she was quoted as saying.