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TRUTH WITHOUT JUSTICE. Explanation for a verdict of acquittal

On January 20th the Court of Justice of Milan issued the full documentation inherent to the verdict of acquittal of soldier V.Markiv, released on November 3rd 2020.These are the key points:

  • the appeal court wholly reconfirm the dynamics of events and responsibilities of the double murder as reconstructed by the state prosecution in Pavia (p.63);
  • the testimony delivered by French photographer William Roguelon is absolutely reliable and crucial to understand how things went, as well as those delivered by the other journalists interrogated in court during the I grade trial (pp. 40, 57, 59);
  • the requests brought up by the defense (further ballistic tests and admission of the movie The Wrong Place) were rejected because deemed not relevant to the current matter (p.29, 30).
  • a formal flaw was detected in one of the 1st grade court hearings: the soldiers who came to Pavia in June 2019 to testify in favor of Mr. Markiv were not correctly informed of the ritual formulas “right to silence” (right not to remain silent when asked) and “all statements can be used against their speaker in upcoming trials”. This flaw determines the complete invalidation of the soldiers’ declarations -nevertheless their content remains valid: Mr Markiv’s colleagues and officers actually strenghtend the thesis developed by the state prosecution concerning Markiv’s role and position on Karachun Hill (p.69).
  • the sudden lack of those evidences as well as the lack of any picture or record catching the indicted in action on May 24th 2014 in that precise place hinder the court to rule a guilty verdict. Hence the acquittal for lack of evidences (p.69).

The documentation doesn’t exonerate the Ukrainian National Guard from the charges but rather denounces the deadly act of violence committed against unarmed journalists at work. These pages bring back an established truth that has been very often twisted and deformed within the past months in the name of a superficial yet ferocius campaign, both in Italy and abroad.

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After the appeal sentence: the official position of the Scapigliate Volpi

A week went by since the acquittal of Vitaly Markiv, ordered by the Milan court of justice at the end of the appeal process meant to attest the responsibility of Andrea Rocchelli’s and Andrej Mironov’s deaths. As Volpi Scapigliate we feel the urge to state firmly our position and our future goals for the common good.

We strove and we’ll always strive for truth and justice for Andy and for his family, well aware that this story belongs to the sadly big bulk of violated human rights, endangered press freedom and denied access to news and information. We’re in the wider frame of those civil conflicts, chronically deregulated and violent, that mark the threshold between XX and XXI century.

Taking someone’s side is not our aim. Nor taking revenge on someone else. Since we got together as a group, we put our efforts in defending the public institutions and we’ll keep doing so.

We deem that the dynamics of events reconstructed by the state prosecutor in Pavia is solid, well structured and indeed trust-worthy: it was confirmed by the 1st grade trial, which we attended in person. This report is a big step forward, towards truth and justice, and nobody can take that away from us. Nevertheless, we know too well that without a smoking gun the 2nd grade jury might have decided that the evidence brought by the state prosecutor was not enough to confirm the verdict of guilty issued by the 1st grade court. For this reason we’ll wait for the reasons of the jury to be published, within the next 90 days. That’ll make a huge difference: perhaps lack of evidence? Or not the faintest idea of who murdered Andy and Andrej?

And then comes justice. We know for sure that the Ukrainian army targeted Andy and Andrey with mortar fire for about forty minutes, till the physical annihilation of the two journalists. That’s about it. This has severe implications within the international law frame. We believe that in case the EU would take a stance on what happened, we’d see an improvement in the lives of those journalists and civilians trapped in dirty wars. 

Therefore we’ll keep pushing, no matter what. The full motivations issued by the 2nd grade jury might define our short term moves but not our strategy. We’ll aim to attest the dynamics of the facts and deepen our knowledge of what happened. We’ll do what we’re capable of in order to put this case under the spotlights. We won’t give up the fight for the right to information and keep foster protection for journalists and reporters, especially in those conflictual places were the states’ legal framework fades away.

One last thought on what happened throughout this trial. Threatening phone calls, intrusive emails directly addressed to the court, Ukrainian senators showing up in the court-room. Attempts to persuade the Italian Prime Minister, military mottos shouted in court and Ukrainian Prime Minister Zelensky’s tweets thanking the “Italian team” for Markiv’s acquittal. We’d like to make clear that we do not accept such filth. We do not play in this “team”. We’re different and we’ll keep insisting, trusting the Italian institution and fiercely aiming to a better world.

And if that wasn’t clear yet: we’re more determined than ever.

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Appeal / IV court hearing – Milan

The defense lawyers held their speeches. 

Defense of Ukrainian state – lawyer Bertolini Clerici

In his opinion the dynamics of events recounted by the state prosecutor went beyond the 1st grade verdict with creative interpretations. Also Italy should not work on this case at all cause the murder happened in Ukraine. Journalist Ilaria Morani’s article, used by the Italian authorities to detect Mr. Markiv, is not reliable (written in a café). The lawyer mentioned how Ukrainian army never committed any human rights violation as documented by Andy Rocchelli, by many journalists on site and by Human Rights Watch. HRW reports about a ukrainian bombing of a psychiatric hospital in Semenovka to escape which all patients were in the cellar. So nobody got hurt. Anyway Ukrainian army was deployed for defense-only purposes, always targeting things instead of people.   Markiv’s defense, lawyer Rapetti:

In her opinion William is an unreliable witness, a boy who doesn’t see the difference between a kalashnikov and a mortar (although he was targeted by one). Ms Rapetti underlined his supposedly being in a state of shock. Slaviansk and Donbass were war zones at the time and Andy and Andrey went there recklessly, unaware of the risk. The autopsy of Andy’s corpse confirmed his death due to metallic splinters, however Ms Rapetti deems as not clear the connection between those and the mortar fire. Hypothesis of cross-fire.The court of justice in Pavia operated therefore inaccurately, far from a scientific approach, neglecting all laws of physics and maths. Markiv’s defense, lawyer Della Valle:

The lawyer mentioned how his speech was crucial to dissipate all rumors and that might have an impact on the court and on public opinion: the president of the court declared that this was a serious offense for the Milan court of justice and for all italian magistrates. The six hours speech can be sum up as: the verdict issued by Pavia court of justice can’t be valid because it was driven by bias, mis-information, the state prosecutor’s conscience problems, fake news and open sources (e.g. Google Earth etc). In order to stop the spread of covid-19, only three journalists were admitted to the courtroom (making shifts) and a plaintiff for each civil part. Ukraine minister of internal affairs, Mr. Avakov, came again to the hearing. The next session will take place on November 3rd.