Thursday, June 19, 2008

Italian court confirms dropping U.S. soldier case

ROME (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who killed an Italian agent in Iraq will not be tried in Italy after its highest court upheld an earlier ruling to drop a murder case against him, the soldier's lawyer said on Thursday.

U.S. soldier Mario Lozano was being tried in absentia in Rome for shooting Italian agent Nicola Calipari at a checkpoint outside Baghdad airport in 2005. Calipari, seen as a hero in Italy, was escorting a newly freed Italian hostage out of Iraq.

A Rome court ruled in October that Italy did not have the jurisdiction to try Lozano -- something it said fell to the United States, but prosecutors appealed, hoping the higher court would overrule the decision and order the trial to continue.

Italy's Court of Cassation, however, confirmed the Rome ruling, leaving no further room for appeal.

"We are satisfied with a ruling that confirms what we maintained in the initial trial," said Alberto Biffani, Lozano's lawyer.

Lozano, who was a gunner at the checkpoint, says he opened fire on Calipari's car after the driver ignored warning shots and refused to stop. The United States has exonerated Lozano from blame, describing the killing as a tragic accident.

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