Tuesday, April 17, 2007

U.S. Soldier Goes On Trial In Absentia In Italy

A U.S. soldier went on trial in absentia Tuesday for the shooting death of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Iraq two years ago, a case that strained relations between Rome and Washington.

The judge immediately adjourned the proceedings against Spc. Mario Lozano, 37, until May 14 for technical reasons.

The agent, Nicola Calipari, was shot March 4, 2005, on his way to the Baghdad airport shortly after securing the release of a kidnapped Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena. Sgrena and another agent who was driving the car were wounded.

Lozano was indicted in February on charges of murder and attempted murder. ...

"What happened was not the fault of the checkpoint, but the fault of the Italians who did not have any military escort," said Cardinali. Lozano's current lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Rome has not sought Lozano's extradition, but the Pentagon has indicated that he would not be extradited anyway, saying it considered the incident a "closed matter." ...

U.S. authorities have said the vehicle was traveling fast, alarming soldiers who feared an insurgent attack. Italian officials claimed the car was traveling at normal speed and blamed the U.S. military for failing to signal there was a checkpoint. It also contended that stress, inexperience and fatigue played a role.

In a separate case, also an irritant to bilateral relations, Italian prosecutors have indicted 26 Americans, all but one believed to be CIA agents, accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terror suspect in Milan as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.


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