Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Negroponte's Troops Involved in Shooting

It turns out that the mobile patrol which fired on Giuliana Sgrena's car was personally assigned to.. John Negroponte.
Italy claims the US embassy was notified in advance of the rescued journalist's approach. Now.. who's our ambassador in Iraq?


Blogger Management said...

Troops in Shooting Were for Negroponte

Thu Mar 10, 3:44 PM ET

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The temporary road checkpoint where American troops mistakenly killed an Italian intelligence agent last week was set up to provide extra security for U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, a U.S. Embassy official said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, assured his Italian counterpart that the inquiry into the death of Nicola Calipari would clearly determine what happened, Italy's government said.

Calipari died Friday when troops at the checkpoint fired at an approaching car that was carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been freed by Iraqi kidnappers.

"The mobile patrol was there to enhance security because Ambassador Negroponte was expected through," embassy spokesman Robert Callahan said, confirming a report that first appeared in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

It was not known if Negroponte, who was nominated last month by President Bush (news - web sites) to be the new director of national intelligence, passed through the checkpoint before the shooting. Senior U.S. officials usually travel by helicopter to avoid attacks in Iraq (news - web sites), but methods are varied so as not to be predictable.

While agreeing the shooting was an accident, U.S. and Italian officials have disagreed about several aspects of the incident, including whether U.S. authorities were notified of the trip, how fast the car was traveling and whether the car ignored signals to halt.

The Italian Defense Ministry said Rumsfeld talked to Defense Minister Antonio Martino by telephone Thursday evening and promised a thorough investigation. Rumsfeld said the probe would remove "any shade of doubt and pinpoint any responsibility," the ministry said.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, made similar assurances to Italian military commanders in a separate call, the ministry added.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that despite differing versions of what happened, "I'm sure that in a very short time every aspect of this will be clarified."

Berlusconi told Italian lawmakers that Calipari had informed an Italian liaison officer, waiting at the Baghdad airport along with an American officer, that he was heading there with a freed hostage.

Berlusconi also said the car was traveling slowly and stopped immediately when a light was flashed at a checkpoint, before U.S. troops fired on the car.

The top U.S. general in Iraq has said he had no indication Italian officials gave advance notice of the route the car was taking. The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said the car was speeding and refused to stop.

In Rome, Italian prosecutors conducting their own investigation into the shooting again questioned Sgrena at the military hospital where she is recovering from a shoulder wound she suffered Friday.

The shooting has been an added problem for Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq who has been struggling to balance his decision to keep 3,000 soldiers in Iraq against strong anti-war sentiment in Italy.

2:19 AM  

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