The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad confirms that the soldiers manning an impromptu checkpoint where Italian hero Nicola Calipari was killed were “part of extra security provided for U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte”. The Post provides more details that contradict the U.S. version of the events that took place last week.
According to the Italian government’s version of events, given earlier this week by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, the Italians drove to the airport at a moderate speed of less than 40 mph because it was raining. During the drive Calipari had the light on in the car so he could make calls informing his superiors and U.S. military authorities of their travel to the airport, Italian officials said.
As the car emerged from a half-flooded underpass, it slowed down to make a sharp right around blocks of concrete, they said. Halfway through the turn, a sharp beam of light hit the car from some 30 yards away from the right side of the road. “As the driver consequently put on the brakes, bringing the vehicle almost immediately to a halt, fire from probably two automatic weapons opened up and lasted approximately 10 to 15 seconds,” Fini told the Italian Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday.
That differs from an initial U.S. account of the incident, which Defense officials have since said will be fully investigated.
A statement by the 3rd Division after the shooting said the vehicle was speeding and did not stop after the military patrol cautioned the driver with hand and arm signals, flashes of white lights and warning shots. The soldiers involved were trained to aim at the engine block, the statement said.