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.


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.


A different matter

The judicial authority should never take sides and the geopolitical issues related to the russian-ukrainian conflict must be left out of the court. This is one of the main points stated by the general Attorney Nunzia Ciaravolo in her indictment during the court hearing of October 15th at the appeals process for the murder of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrej Mironov.

During the latest weeks, similarly to what happened during the most intensive phases of the first degree trial, we had to witness all possible kinds of interference of politics in the field of justice. We saw senators showing up at the hearings. We heard of emails and phone calls aimed to influence the jury. There were demonstrations and documentaries. Last but not least, the inappropriate move by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, who urged Giuseppe Conte to take action in order to free Vitaly Markiv, already sentenced to 24 years at that time.

We don’t think this is a private affair, the story of a Fenoglio’s Milton of our times, with history in the background. Andy’s murder is a public matter, we know that and we stated that many times. It has to do with human rights, with our right to be informed about facts that happen in the theatres of war. Hence, it has implications on the protection of whoever happens to be unwillingly at war, i.e. civilians. Ukrainian civilians, Donbass’ civilians as well. Therefore, it has political consequences. But this isn’t a political trial. 

Some poisoners of wells are trying to represent this judicial story as a clash between clans. They act in bad faith as they want to free Markiv in order to score a point for the nationalist Ukrainian team. But they’re missing the point, since we are not watching a Ukraine-Russia match here. We are fighting for the rights and the protection of civilians to be reaffirmed everywhere, particularly in those critical situations where it’s so easy for a chain of command to make wrong decisions bringing to heinous crimes, such as the deliberated murder of unarmed journalists. It’s not a private affair. It is a different matter. It’s not about fighting each other. Like enemies. It’s about protecting people. All the people. Like the ones Andy depicted in his images. Donbass’ people. Now that we are shaping together the Europe of the future, please help us defend the primacy of justice over political barricades.