Sgrena’s Car Speeding at 100 MPH

Was Italian Hostage’s Car Speeding? (ABC News)

A senior U.S. military official tells ABC News he believes the investigation into the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence officer by U.S. troops in Iraq will ultimately prove the officer’s car was traveling in excess of 100 mph. The car, which was carrying a newly released Italian hostage to freedom, came under fire from U.S. troops at a checkpoint Friday. Intelligence officer Nicola Calipari was hit by a bullet and killed as he threw himself in front of the freed hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena. Sgrena and another intelligence officer were wounded. The shooting has outraged Italians, who mourned Calipari at a state funeral Monday.

Sgrena has said she believes the car was deliberately ambushed because the United States opposes Italy’s policy of negotiating with hostage-takers. The White House has dismissed claims that the shooting was anything but an accident as “absurd.”

Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini told his country’s parliament today that the shooting was an accident, but he contradicted the U.S. military’s account of the incident. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said in a statement that the vehicle was “traveling at high speeds” and did not stop at the checkpoint, despite a number of warnings. The military said U.S. soldiers only opened fire after the car ignored the warnings. Fini, however, said the car was traveling no faster than 25 mph, and disputed the U.S. military’s assertion that several warnings were given. He said the U.S. government must conduct a thorough investigation, “that responsibilities be pinpointed, and, where found, that the culprits be punished.”

But, according to the senior U.S. military official, the car was traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph. The driver almost lost control several times before the shooting as the car hydroplaned through large puddles, the official told ABC News. The car had not gone through any previous checkpoints, the source added.

The plot thickens. . . .

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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.