Italy Rejects U.S. Version of Iraq Shooting
Sun Mar 6, 2005 07:26 AM ET
By Robin Pomeroy
ROME (Reuters) - Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena, shot and wounded after being freed in Iraq, said Sunday U.S. forces may have deliberately targeted her because Washington opposed Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers.
She offered no evidence for her claim, but the sentiment reflected growing anger in Italy over the conduct of the war, which has claimed more than 20 Italian lives, including the secret agent who rescued her moments before being killed.
Friday evening's killing of the agent and wounding of the journalist, who worked for a communist daily, has sparked tension with Italy's U.S. allies and put pressure on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to take a hard line with President Bush.
The United States has promised a full investigation into incident, in which soldiers fired on the Italians' car as it approached Baghdad airport Friday evening.
The U.S. military says the car was speeding toward a checkpoint and ignored warning shots, an explanation denied by government ministers and the driver of the car.
Speaking from her hospital bed where she is being treated, Sgrena told Sky Italia TV it was possible the soldiers had targeted her because Washington opposes Italy's dealings with kidnappers that may include ransom payments.
"The United States doesn't approve of this (ransom) policy and so they try to stop it in any way possible."
According to Italy's leading daily Corriere della Sera, the driver, an unidentified Italian agent, said: "We were driving slowly, about 40-50 km/h (25-30 mph)."
In a harrowing account of her ordeal, Sgrena wrote in Sunday's Il Manifesto newspaper that the secret agent, Nicola Calipari, saved her life by shielding her with his body.
"Nicola threw himself on to protect me and then suddenly I heard his last breath as he died on top of me," she wrote.
PUNISHMENT, APOLOGY Continued ...
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