US soldier on Italy murder charge


Feb 7, 2007

An Italian judge has ordered a US soldier to face trial over the death of an Italian intelligence agent in a car at a checkpoint in Baghdad.

Nicola Calipari, 51, was shot in March 2005 as he escorted Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the airport after securing her release from kidnappers.

The soldier, Mario Lozano, will face a charge of murder in a case that put serious strain on US-Italian relations.

He will probably be tried in absentia as he has been cleared in the US.

'First step'

Spc Lozano, of the New York-based 69th Infantry Regiment, is indicted for murder and attempted murder.

A second Italian agent, who was driving the car, and Ms Sgrena were wounded.

Mr Calipari's widow, Rosa, said: "This looks to me like the first step on a long road toward truth and justice, and I hope justice will come in the end."

Ms Sgrena said: "We don't want to make Mario Lozano the scapegoat, but we want to find out who was responsible and have justice."

The Italian lawyer for Spc Lozano expressed surprise at the ruling: "[Lozano] was carrying out his duty, which is something that the judge did not consider relevant."

The trial has been set for 17 April.

The US and Italy drew widely differing conclusions in their investigations into the case, particularly over the speed of the car.

Mr Calipari was mourned as a national hero in Italy.