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Italian Killed In Iraq Given State Funeral

7 March 2005 -- An Italian intelligence agent killed by U.S. troops after helping secure the release of an Italian journalist in Iraq will be given a state funeral today in Rome.

The agent, Nicola Calipari, will also be awarded Italy's gold medal of valor for his heroism.

Calipari died shielding Giuliana Sgrena when U.S. troops fired on their car as it drove to Baghdad's airport on the night of 4 March.

Sgrena -- who was wounded in the shoulder -- has disputed the U.S. version of events. The U.S. military says its troops only opened fire on the speeding car after it ignored warnings to stop at a checkpoint.

Sgrena said there was no checkpoint, and says the car was not speeding.

"There was no checkpoint and we were going at a normal speed. We were going about 50-60 kilometers an hour -- which for a place like this was completely normal. We were not travelling along the normal road for the airport we were travelling on a privileged road that is less dangerous than the normal one where every day bombs explode," Sgrena said.

Sgrena also refused to rule out she may have been targeted on purpose.

A senior White House official yesterday called the shooting a "horrific accident." President George W. Bush has promised a full investigation.


For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".