Nicola Calipari

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Nicola Calipari
Born (1953-06-23)June 23, 1953
Reggio Calabria, Italy
Died March 4, 2005(2005-03-04) (aged 51)
Route Irish, Iraq
Allegiance  Italy
Service/branch SISMI
Rank Major general
Battles/wars Rescue of Giuliana Sgrena
Awards Valor militare gold medal BAR.svg Gold Medal of Military Valor
Spouse(s) 1 wife
Relations 2 children

Nicola Calipari (June 23, 1953 – March 4, 2005) was an Italian major general and SISMI military intelligence officer. Calipari was killed by American soldiers while escorting a recently released Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, to Baghdad International Airport.

During the 1990s, he was involved in several rescues of people kidnapped by 'Ndrangheta and other criminal organizations. He had spent most of his career inside the Italian police, rising to prominent positions, before joining the Italian military Security and Intelligence Service (SISMI) two years before his death.

Calipari's death sparked one of the most serious diplomatic incidents between U.S. and Italy since the end of World War II. Other such incidents include the Sigonella crisis, the Cavalese cable car disaster in 1998, the Gladio scandal and the abduction of Islamic cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in 2003 (Imam Rapito affair).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Calipari was born in Reggio Calabria on June 23, 1953.

Career[edit]

Rescue of Giuliana Sgrena[edit]

Calipari, along with Andrea Carpani, rescued Giuliana Sgrena from her captors, in undisclosed circumstances. On the way back to Baghdad International Airport, the Toyota Corolla they were travelling in came under fire, in disputed conditions, by American soldiers that had set up a blocking position to protect the convoy transporting the American ambassador, John Negroponte.

According to the reconstruction of Giuliana Sgrena,[2] Calipari threw himself on her, and shortly after died (shot in his temple). A coalition report later identified the soldier who shot Calipari as New York State National Guardsman Mario Lozano, a member of the 1st Battalion of the 69th Infantry Regiment (of the Third Infantry Division).

Death[edit]

Reactions in Italy[edit]

Sorrow over Calipari's death united the nation, tens of thousands of Italians paid their respects to Calipari, who had become a national hero, at the state funeral on March 8, 2005, at Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome.

He was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor by President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on March 22, 2005.[3]

Video[edit]

On May 8, 2007, the Italian T.V. channel Canale 5 broadcast a video[4] of the very first moments after the shooting. In this video, Calipari's car lights are switched on (while American officials said the car was travelling with lights switched off), and the car is at least 50 meters from the U.S. Army vehicle. This means that Lozano shot while the car was more than 50 meters from the vehicle, in contradiction with what Lozano said.[5]

Judicial investigation[edit]

Italian prosecutors sought to interview Lozano as part of their criminal investigation into Calipari's death.[6]

On December 22, 2005 the special prosecutors of the Magistrate's service of Rome announced that they were considering charging Lozano with voluntary manslaughter.[7]

On January 18, 2006, it was reported that the prosecutors had decided to charge Lozano with murder. The prosecutors indicated that despite making over twenty formal requests to the United States, they refused to formally identify Lozano. After confirming Lozano's identity, the Magistrate service appointed an attorney to represent Lozano during the charging process. If Lozano does not accept service of process and appear at his upcoming trial, he would be tried in absentia.[8]

On February 7, 2007, it was reported that Judge Sante Spinaci had agreed to allow the trial in absentia to move forward. The trial would begin on April 17.[9]

On October 25, 2007, an Italian court dismissed the charges against Lozano after determining that coalition forces in Iraq were under the exclusive jurisdiction of the country that sent them.[10]

Political implications[edit]

Calipari's death caused a major international incident,[11] since Calipari, a highly decorated SISMI agent, had become a national hero in Italy. As a result, there was significant pressure on the Italian government to publicly support another investigation into the shooting, this time being conducted by prosecutors.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi indicated in Parliament on May 5, 2005 that the government remains fully committed to supporting the ongoing judicial investigation into Calipari's death. One of the most prominent leaders of the opposition in the lower house of parliament, Piero Fassino, called for the United States to facilitate cooperation with the investigation, indicating that they believe the U.S. Army should produce Lozano for questioning by the magistrates.[12]

Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, head of the Italian Federation of the Greens, indicated that should the United States fail to cooperate with this investigation by allowing Lozano to be questioned, he would push for a hearing at the International Court of Justice.[13]

Personal life[edit]

When Calipari was killed, he was married and had two children.

References[edit]