U.S. soldiers cleared in Italian agent's death
Italy disputes conclusion that car with ex-hostage didn't stop
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military has determined that no disciplinary action should be taken against any soldier involved in the mistaken killing of an Italian intelligence agent who was trying to spirit a just-freed hostage out of Iraq.
The investigating officer "concluded that the vehicle approaching the checkpoint failed to reduce speed until fired upon," said a statement accompanying a report released Saturday. "The soldiers manning the checkpoint acted in accordance with the rules of engagement."
The Italians have disputed the conclusion surrounding the incident that occurred March 4, and the differences with the American report are likely to further strain relations between the two countries.
Nicola Calipari, 50, died after being shot in the head. He was traveling in a car with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, whose release he had just negotiated with insurgent hostage-takers. The shooting occurred as the car approached a U.S. military checkpoint.
Sgrena was wounded in the shoulder.
She has claimed U.S. soldiers fired on the vehicle without provocation. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said the driver reported traveling slowly and had stopped when soldiers shone a light on the vehicle.
But the report said U.S. military personnel at the scene estimated the vehicle was traveling in excess of 50 mph and said it did not slow even after warning shots were fired.
In addition, the report said, no one at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or in the multinational forces leadership knew, until after the shooting, about the operation to recover Sgrena and get her out of the country.
Names of some of those involved in the incident were blacked out of the U.S. military report.
"This was a tragic accident, and MNF-I expresses its deepest sympathies to the Calipari family," Brig. Gen. Peter Vangjel, investigating officer for the Multinational Corps-Iraq, said in the statement.