Saturday, March 05, 2005

US attacked Italian journo on purpose -- cut cell phones before shooting!

Rome - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday levelled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.

'The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming,' Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

'They were 700m from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints.'

The shooting late on Friday was overheard by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office, which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. 'Then the US military silenced the cellphones,' he charged.

'Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive,' he added.

When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.

Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a 'hail of bullets' rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killing one of them.

'I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realised he was dead,' said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.

'They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible,' she added."

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