Friendly Fire

Italian prosecutors requested the indictment of a U.S. soldier Monday in the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Baghdad - a case that saw the agent mourned as a national hero.

Authorities were seeking the indictment on charges of murder and attempted murder, said one of the prosecutors, who asked that his name not be used because a new law in Italy allows only the chief prosecutor to speak to the media.

The fatal shooting of Nicola Calipari on March 4, 2005, angered Italians, already largely opposed to the war in Iraq. The former conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi - a strong
U.S. ally - called repeatedly for an investigation into the killing but insisted the incident would not affect Italy's friendship with Washington.

The prosecutor investigating the Calipari case said it would be at least two months before a judge rules on the indictment requests. He said prosecutors planned to argue the U.S. soldier had committed "political murder," because Calipari was a civil servant and his slaying damaged Italy's interests.

In February 2005, Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena was taken hostage in Iraq. "I was leaving the University of Baghdad after interviews with refugees of Fallujah that were living near a mosque that is inside the campus," Sgrena explained. "When I left the university, there was a block to control people going in and out of the university. This block was blocked by my kidnapper this time instead of guards."

Her capture was a national obsession. Sgrena's face draped Rome's city hall, and the players on the city's leading soccer team wore "Liberate Giuliana" jerseys, which her kidnappers saw on TV, to their amazement.

The kidnappers were demanding that Italy pull its troops out of Iraq, but Sgrena told her captors what she thought of their chances. "I told them, 'If you want me to ask to Berlusconi that we withdraw our troops, if not, you kill me. So, do it now,'" said Sgrena. "'Kill me now.'"

Instead of pulling his men out of Iraq, Berlusconi sent one more. In March, after 28 days, Sgrena was rescued by Italian intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari.

Sgrena and Calipari thought they'd escaped to safety, when an American patrol opened fire on their car. Sgrena and another agent, who was driving the car, were wounded; Calipari was killed. "When I saw the light, at the same moment arrived the bullet," said Sgrena "There was no warning."

Italy and the U.S. issued separate reports on the incident, after failing to agree on a shared version of events.

U.S. authorities have said the vehicle was traveling fast, alarming soldiers who feared an insurgent attack. Italian officials claimed the car was traveling at normal speed and blamed U.S.
Military for failing to signal there was a checkpoint.

"I think we need, we want truth, and for that we want judgment," Segrena explained. "We want judgment of the only man, for the moment, charged in the shooting. We want to know what happened."

Giuliana Segrena has written a book about her experience, "Friendly Fire," and it will be released in September.