12th April 2019: hearing in the Court

On Friday 12th, two witnesses reported on Andy Rocchelli’s and Andrey Mironov’s murder:
  1. Fabrizio Romano: former italian ambassador in Kiev where he resided until fall 2016; he took full charge of the retrieval of Andy’s and Andrey’s corpses and arranged the transport operations from Slavianks to Kiev. His statements have been rather generic concerning the transfer ( that implied a truce-like security channel to be set so that Ukrainian military corps wouldn’t shoot at the Russian driver who volunteered to take the coffins out of Donbass ). Mr Romano confirmed that the case was extensively covered by both Ukrainian and Russian media thus undermining the version reported by the two Ukrainian senators who came as spontaneous witnesses in court (Mr Bogdan Matkivskyi and Mr Andrii Antonyschak meant they learnt about this case once Vitaly Markiv was arrested); Mr Romano recalled his repeated efforts to bring up the case with the Ukrainian authorities during his mandate in Kiev.
  2. Luca Soldati: lawyer and ballistics consultant for the defense. He based his studies upon the Ukrainian rogatory -though vague and incomplete- and upon the autopsy report to infer that splinters rather than direct mortar fire has been the cause of Andy’s death. He deems difficult to link those splinters to mortar bombs. When questioned about Mironov, beheaded, Mr Soldati admitted that must have been mortar fire.
He supposes a cross-fire situation given the different angles of the holes unevenly scattered on the taxi; he admitted he never took in consideration the dynamic of the event: the cab was forced to make a quick U turn to escape from the unceasing shootings coming from Karachun hill.
He has been proved wrong regarding the dimensions of the mortal wounds detected on Andy’s body: mr Soldati was minimizing their size.
He mentioned the fireworks related substances were spotted on Andy’s backpack during the analyses, although it’s seems highly unlikely that fireworks were much in use in Donbass at the time.

15th and 22nd March: hearing in the Court

On Friday 15th March the accused Vitaly Markiv was heard: based on the Italian law, the accused can take advantage of the right to not answer and it is not compelled to tell the truth and in fact there is not binding oath.

Questions from the Pavia Prosecutor:

  • the accused is requested to identify and possibly recognize certain Ukrainian soldiers in the pictures confiscated to the accused himself when he was arrested. The accused refrained to answer to most of the queries and sometimes affirmed he didn’t recognize any of the faces and names known to the Prosecutor of Pavia, even though those people were on the Karachun hill during the same days Markiv was there too;

    The accused essentially confirmed his role on the Karachun hill from where the mortar shots came: he was meant to refer to the mortar operator the coordinates of the targets and inform about possible movements within the view area assigned to him;

    the accused avoided to answer regarding the discrepancies among what he referred during the interrogations after the arrest (2017) and what he referred in the Court;

    M. asserted that the mortars arrived only at the end of May on the hill where he was;

    the accused was vague regarding the origin of the orders he executed, the existence of a written and reachable document with the shifts and the tasks of the soldiers that were on the Karachun;

    among the confiscated pictures found in the devices owned by the accused there were also various images of tortured men; describing one of them Markiv reported that was a fellow soldier who partied to much the night before.

  • The civil parts underlined the violation of human rights documented in the pictures confiscated and the inconsistencies among the versions giveni (position, timing, role, weapons)

Here is the link to a tv report from TgR delle 19:30 di Venerdì: minute 14:01.

22nd March: 

  • The witnesses chosen by the defense (Sloviansk’s taxi driver and the accused’s comrades in arms) didn’t show up, but unexpectedly the director of the GNU’s law department testified; the aim of her testimony was to report about a document that the power of attorney of Pavia got in possession of a few days after the arrest of Vitaly Markiv. In that document, signed and countersigned by the GNU, 8 Ukrainian soldiers were ordered to report to the Italian power of attorney a unique version of the events, in support of Markiv.

    The witness denied the veracity of such a document bringing contradictory justifications (faded seal, not regulatory seal, document not included in the register that anyway she didn’t show any copy of).

    Moreover, the witness declared to be in service from 2016 and to not have a clue about the names mentioned in the document, even if she is the director of the GNU legal department.

    The deposition was long and lacking of content. Globally, the impression was that the witness didn’t have any intention to collaborate, nor she knew much about the case, but she sounded as if she was instructed herself as well on what to say in the Court.

  • Many witness soldiers didn’t show up in the Court and refuse to attend the next hearings. Some of them are even untraceable. The following motivations are advanced: the fear to be arrested by the Pavia power of attorney (inconsistent reason, since this would violate the international penal code; by the way the Pavia power of attorney even took care of making sure that the 2 Ukrainian military generals who testified during the previous hearing would not lose their flight…) and the fear of being attacked by the the super scary Andy’s friends attending the trial and even hand out some leaflets!

The Court President didn’t grant the new rogatory requested by the defense, but she guaranteed a body guard service for the Ukrainian witnesses.

The next hearing planned for the 29th March has been cancelled waiting for the witnesses of the defense to decide and testify in the Court. Next hearings planned are: 12nd April (possibly with the Ukrainian comrades in arm), 17th May, 14th and 21st June.


Let’s get out of the bunker

There is a picture of Andy Rocchelli that strikes a chord more than any other one. It is the one depicting children hiding in the basement during the war in Ukraine. For getting a picture like that you need time. You need to gain the trust of the civilians, experience their own war, observe without judging.

Documents like this one make history, they condition our consciences and they end up addressing the history of the humankind. Documents like these ones can extract a drop of beauty in a ocean of sorrow, and maybe help us to improve ourselves.

Andy died in that war, killed in a rough attack tightened against civilian reporters. What happened is now an open wound for the whole community and for the people around Andy. But it is also a symbol of the permanent threat towards whom choose to be witnesses of the darkest side of our smashed humankind. It is thanks to them that we know and that we learn. It is thanks to them that we can roll up our sleeves and try to improve ourselves.

People like Andy Rocchelli, anywhere in the world, are accidental heros. It is our own responsibility to fight so that they won’t have to be that anymore in the future. They need to simply be what they were meant to be: our own conscience, our way of knowing, our right to improve ourselves.

It is for this exact reason that the trial currently held at the Pavia Court represent a civil fight of the highest symbolic value for everybody. It is necessary to find out what happened in that awful day in 2014. It is a must to find out the truth. It is mandatory to draw a line for reminding the community that crossing that line would mean commit an unforgivable crime  against the community itself.

More than ever now participation is required. Civil voices are required to arise and demand justice. For Andy, for reporters around the world and for all of us.