The web site of TF1, France's most popular television network, reported Saturday that as Giuliana Sgrena returned to Rome Saturday morning, her companion told the press that "the American military didn't want her to get out alive" because she was in possession of information embarrassing to the United States. -- The common joy at her liberation quickly degenerated into a political confrontation in Italy, whose population has never been in favor of the government's support for military intervention in Iraq. -- An earlier report from Libération (Paris) evoked the "confusion" in Rome Friday night as news of the tragedy reached Italians. ...
[Translated from the web site of TF1]
'THE AMERICANS DIDN'T WANT GIULIANA TO GET OUT'
** Pier Scolari, the companion of the Italian reporter liberated Friday in Iraq, says that American soldiers had been informed about that the car heading for the Baghdad airport was passing through. Giuliana Sgrena was wounded and the leader of the team of Italian intelligence agents accompanying her was killed. Italy is demanding an explanation from the United States **
March 5, 2005
After relief mixed with sadness comes polemic. Pier Scolari, Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena's companion, said Saturday that "the American military didn't want her to get out alive" because she had information embarrassing to the United States. When she was taken hostage last Feb. 4, the reporter was preparing an article on refugees from Fallujah who had taken shelter in a Baghdad mosque following American bombing of the Sunni bastion.
"RAIN OF FIRE"
Giuliana Sgrena, 56, was freed Friday evening after a month of captivity. But on the road to the Baghdad airport, her car was fired upon by American soldiers. The journalist was wounded, and Nicola Calipari, 51, the head of the team of Italian intelligence agents accompanying her, was killed. According to Pier Scolari, "The Americans and the Italians had been advised the car was coming through. They were 700 meters from the airport, which means they'd gone through all the checkpoints."
A "rain of fire" hit the car "at the very moment when I was talking to Nicola Calipari," she said by telephone to the TV station RaiNews24 from the Celio military hospital, were she was taken after her return to Rome at morning's end. "We weren't going very fast, given the circumstances. . . . The firing continued. The driver couldn't even explain that we were Italian," added the journalist. "The whole fusillade was heard live by the Council presidency, which was on the phone with one of the members of the special forces. Then the American soldiers confiscated and shut off the cell phones," added Pier Scolari.
Carlo Ciampi, the head of state, demanded an explanation from Washington. "Like all Italians, we are waiting for clarification from the United States on this painful tragedy," he announced Saturday morning. It was clear that Carlo Ciampi found inadequate the regrets expressed Friday evening by President George W. Bush in a five-minute telephone conversation with Silvio Berlusconi.
"The president has every reason to demand an explanation, because the United States is responsible for the death of Nicola Calipari. The only thing to do now is to withdraw our troops from Iraq," said Fausto Berinotti, the secretary general of the Party for Communist Refoundation. The incident, attributed to "destiny" by Gianfranco Fini, the head of Italian diplomacy, has degenerated into a new confrontation over the Italian military presence in Iraq between the left opposition and the right, which is in power. And it brought back to the surface anti-American resentment, which has often been expressed since President Bush's decision to intervene militarily in Iraq.
"THEY NEVER MISTREATED ME"
Wounded, tired, but free, the Italian ex-hostage was taken, as soon as she returned to Rome Saturday morning, to a military hospital for treatment. Her shoulder in a sling, the journalist walked down the ramp leaning on two people, one of whom was her companion Pier Scolari, who had gone to retrieve her in a Falcon 900 lent by the Italian government. Many colleagues, political figures like Silvio Berlusconi, the president of the Italian Council, and the chiefs of the Italian special forces also went to Ciampino on Saturday. "They never mistreated me," she said of her captors to colleagues from the newspaper Il Manifesto, who had come to greet her. "The hardest moment was when I saw the person who had saved me die in my arms," she said to Pier Scolari, her companion.
[Translated from Libération (Paris)]
GIULIANA SGRENA LIBERATED UNDER FIRE
By Eric Jozsef
March 5, 2005
ROME -- Released on Friday, exactly one month after her kidnapping on Feb. 4 in the center of Baghdad, the daily Il Manifesto's special correspondent Giuliana Sgrena was wounded by American fire several hours after her liberation. The chief of the Italian intelligence team in Iraq, Nicola Calipari, who was with her, was killed. As the Italian soldiers were on their way from the Iraqi capital to the airport, where a military plane was waiting to take her straight back to Rome, a barrage of American soldiers opened fire on the convoy. In addition to the officer killed, another Italian soldier was wounded, and Giuliana Sgrena was shot in the shoulder. She was taken to the emergency room of an American hospital in Baghdad.
In Italy Friday evening, the greatest confusion reigned concerning these events, in particular concerning the hail of bullets. Toward the end of the afternoon, Al Jazeera television announced the freeing of Giuliana Sgrena, of whom no news had been received since Feb. 16, when a videocassette was broadcast in which, visibly distraught, she asked several times, in tears, for the Italian contingent to be withdrawn from Iraq. Since then, the mysterious "Mujahideen Without Borders," an organization not heretofore known, had given no further sign. But the government pursued negotiations on the sidelines. Friday evening, in a videorecording recorded by her kidnappers and broadcast by Al Jazeera, Giuliana Sgrena, in a black dress before a basket of fruit, said only that her captors "had kidnapped her because they were determined to free their land of occupation," and specifying that she had been well treated.
A few minutes after the broadcast of the news of the liberation by Al Jazeera, Il Manifesto, informed by the council presidency, confirmed the news of her liberation, as did the head of state, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who, just last Wednesday, had issued a solemn appeal: "Free Giuliana and Florence Aubenas, their liberation would be a good thing for everyone and above all for the future of Iraq."
Throughout Italy, which since Feb. 4 had intensely mobilized to demand that the hostages be liberated, in particular by means of a gigantic demonstration on Feb. 19 in the streets of Rome, the news caused a genuine moment of euphoria, with Italy's political class unanimously hailing the dénouement. As a sign of celebration, Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, announced that the Coliseum would be lit all night. Simultaneously, Gabriele Polo, editor-in-chief of Il Manifesto, was received by Council President Silvio Berlusconi.
Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
Home page: http://www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/