Italy: Sgrena Shooting Not Deliberate

The Italian government has conducted its own investigation into the shooting incident that left journalist Giuliana Sgrena wounded and her bodyguard dead. Their stunning conclusion: it was not an assassination attempt by the Americans.

Italy: Agent’s Shooting Not Deliberate (AP)

Italian investigators blamed U.S. military authorities for failing to signal there was a checkpoint ahead on the Baghdad road where American soldiers killed an Italian agent, and concluded that stress, inexperience and fatigue played a role in the shooting, according to a report released Monday.

The probe found no evidence that the March 4 killing of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was deliberate.

The Italians challenged the American contentions that the car was traveling more than 50 mph, saying it was going half that speed. But, despite their refusal to sign off on the U.S. report that the soldiers bore no blame for the death, the Italian investigators didn’t object to many of the American findings of fact.

Thanks, guys.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tbird1107 says:

    Yes, thanks for clearing the soldiers. Now explain why Sgrena’s version contradictes itself in her various statements.

  2. bryan says:

    I’m curious how the Italians can prove that the car was going 30 mph if they are so adamant that the car wasn’t going 60 mph.

  3. libertypirate says:

    It can’t be both either you are right or the rest of the world is.

  4. Akash says:

    In the end the Italian contention that the American soldiers were inexperienced, lacked organisation and rules – is very right.

    However, i fail to see what the celebration is about. It would have been better for an army to have successfully executed a planned assasination, as opposed to being labelled incompetent.

    The Americans feel no one can touch them (which is true to quite an extent), and it is from this their ignorance stems.

    War seems to be a joke in that country, declared for any purpose except in national defence, and lets not forget how America and Russia gave birth to the taliban and Saddam Hussain in the first place.

    The high command of the country is arrogant and feels it can get away with anything, which is why there is an utter disregard to international polity and other races (kyoto, super 301 etc etc).

    This is why Nicola Calipari had to die.
    AND, this is also the reason the ITV crew had to die AND this is also the reason why there are so many friendy fire deaths.

    The military needs to clean up their act and realise they have a great responsibilty. They cant be roaming around Iraq with much superior firepower, trained generals, defined organisational structure, EDUCATED people, and show the results they are showing.


  5. Steve says:

    The high command of the country is arrogant and feels it can get away with anything, which is why there is an utter disregard to international polity and other races (kyoto, super 301 etc etc).

    Let me get this straight…the failure of Bush and the Senate to even consider the Kyoto Protocols on Global Climate change is due to the high command in Iraq?

  6. Akash says:

    Steve: “Let me get this straight…the failure of Bush and the Senate to even consider the Kyoto Protocols on Global Climate change is due to the high command in Iraq?”

    No, no no. Who ever said anything about the Iraq government. Im talking about the US government.

    Though, I can see how you confused the both 🙂

    Best regards.

  7. LJD says:


    You’re trippin… In no way has the miliitary been deemed incompetent (except by you). What we do know is that Sgrena is a commie with something to gain, who can;t get her story straight. There’s a big difference between 30 and 60 mph, or 25 and 50 mph. I know first-hand the training our troops go through, and the discipline they exhibit. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Bash the administration, not the troops.

  8. Luisa says:

    Ciao. First of all, sorry for my poor English. I’am Italian, I appreciate the USA and I have not never thought that Calipari had been deliberately assassinated. I understand the necessity to not demoralize the Americans troops in Irak, but I don’t understand lies and the lack of respect to a loyal allied.
    Trying to justify the lack of marks indicating the existence of a block post (like previewed from the ROE), an American officier has asserted that, however, the three Italians on the car could not have understood them “’cause they were written in Arab and English”. Really?
    Indeed you thoughts that we are unables to understand mark like “stop” or “slow down”?
    The majority of the Italians loves the USA, but episodes like the Cermis one (do you remember?) are hard to forget.
    Finally, about “to being labelled incompetent”: be professional! As an example, avoid that a classified report become readable with a simple copy&past…
    Best regards.

  9. Jim Henley says:

    Given that the Italian government never held that Sgrena and Calipari were victims of an assassination attempt, this hardly represents any kind of reversal. I recognize that among Sgrena herself and some of the more militant opponents of the war, the assassination charge was taken seriously, but it’s hardly the beginning and end of the issues surrounding the shooting or US checkpoint policy generally.

    It sounds, actually, like the Italian government is sticking substantially by its original story. In the meantime, I still want to see what the back and left sides of that car look like!

  10. Oyster says:

    I still can’t help but think that there was likely a measure of error on both sides. Specifically, communication between the Italians and the Americans. I can’t help but feel that Berlusconi’s dire need to appease his people is a strong factor in the Italian Government’s reluctance to accept any responsibility “at all” for what happened. Much easier and kindlier to clear the US military of outright malice and simply say they were incompetent to save face. It’s akin to a pat on the head of an unruly child and saying they didn’t know any better.

    However, we are jumping to conclusions in taking sides in either instance without having been there ourselves. Sgrena has an agenda, there is no doubt. Her story has changed more often than I change my socks. To consider her account of what happened as truth is like asking Castro to write his own history. Do you really think that she or the driver would matter of factly say, “Yeah, we were doing 50 or 60mph. We are as much to blame.” ?

    Akash is pointing fingers unjustly in total condemnation and Luisa is calling *us* incompetent? This from someone from Italy?


  11. Akash says:

    See, i feel for the troops. They have been pushed into something they dont deserve / signed up for.

    Look at it this way, When was the last time American troops defended their land, their turf. Somehow… it’s always on someone else’s homeland.

    So yes…. as someone said bash the administration and Not the troops. But, having said that – the number of ‘mistakes’ made by the american troops are far too much for the training and funding they have at their disposal.

    You cant say that they have not been lax.

    No ‘LJD’ im not trippin’ or out of whack.
    The training must be great. No disputing that – but, somehow there are deaths of innocents. A wide spectrum actually – women and children, civilans, journalists, negotiators and what really hurts – friendy fire.
    Troops killing their own.

    Oyter: No i’m not Italian. I’m from INDIA. I have a neutral perspective on the issue. I make up my own mind. Here in India we get BBC, CNN, Oprah etc… So i have a wide variety of sources to choose from.

    Best regards,

  12. Luisa says:

    The problem is NOT the car’s speed. On this point, in absence of objective replies (as an example, satellite surveys), we have the eyewitnesses only. Testimonies are conflicting: Sgrena ed the driver estimate the speed from 28 and 35 mph, US soldiers from 50 to 80 mph (not a thin difference!). An American survey, made another day at the same hour on the same point, has estimated in 45 mph the AVERAGE speed of civilian cars. Unfortunately, the “scene of the crime” has been compromised: the vehicles have been moved and no photo has been released. Nobody will never know exactly which was the speed.
    I don’t believe that the American soldiers are killers. But I also don’t believe that Italian agents are crazy suicides. Nobody challenge a block post, if he knows that this existe. But the Italian agents did not know it. And they did not know it ’cause the traffic control post was unexpected and it was not marked. And it was not marked (despite the ROE) ’cause the soldiers did not have the signs. And they did not have the signs ’cause the signs were “to correct because offensive words for the Arabs”.
    “Friendy fire” is ALWAYS the consequence of a chain of errors and bad lucky.
    Sixty years ago you have saved us from a presumed “superior race”. Now, please, don’t consider yourself as a new “superior race”. Yours dead men count like ours dead men, yours errors count like ours errors. Or not?
    The problem is political.
    Do you want to have allies in Iraq? Or do you prefere to “make the job” alone? Are you disposed to renounce to your impunity? That’s the question.
    Incompetents exists all over the world, even in Italy and in the USA. Sometimes we, both Italians and Americans, quite choose them as governors. Is this a good reason in order to be killed?
    With regards.

  13. Akash says:

    Well said Luisa …