Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Italy may try US marine for shooting agent in Iraq�|�World�|�Reuters.co.uk

Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:11 PM BST

ROME (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors on Monday formally requested a trial, in absentia if necessary, of a U.S. marine accused of shooting dead an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad last year, judicial sources said.

The marine, Mario Lozano, is accused of manslaughter and attempted double homicide in the March 2005 killing of agent Nicola Calipari, who had been escorting a newly freed Italian hostage to safety when he was shot at a checkpoint.

A judge will have to rule whether there is enough evidence for an indictment.

The governments of Italy and United States officially called the shooting an accident, but Italy's independent magistrates continued their own investigation into the politically-charged incident.

Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, a member of Italy's new centre-left government, has criticised the U.S. failure to cooperate with the judicial probe. Investigators had sought the names of other U.S. soldiers at the Baghdad checkpoint.

Prosecutors wrote in their request that a trial in absentia was justified under a provision of Italy's penal code covering "offence to the political interests of the state", the sources said.

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government criticised the U.S. military last year for posting inexperienced troops at the checkpoint.

The Calipari case is one of two major investigations by Italian prosecutors of American military and intelligence agents.

A separate probe by Milan magistrates has led to arrest warrants for 22 CIA agents, accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan and flying him to Egypt in 2003.

The cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, says the Egyptians tortured him under interrogation. Italian magistrates accuse Nasr of links to al Qaeda and recruiting combatants for Iraq.

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