Testimony of Deputy Premier Gianfraco Fini on the Sgrena Affair
The Carabinieri major at wheel knew Baghad very well. He looked for outline of the building known as Saddam Tower, the landmark for the turnoff for the airport.
Once on the airport highway, the driver observed a safe driving speed of 30 mph, a speed appropriate rain-slick road conditions. The interior car lights were kept on for ease of identification should the group be stopped at some checkpoint (they did not come across any) as well as for making phone calls to Rome to Calpari's superior, General Polli, and to US miltary authorities to inform them of the imminent arrival of their car at the airport in order to facilitate a direct and unhindered approach to the airport.
As the group entered a darkened area on the highway, the car slowed down. They then had to drive through an underpass, which was partially flooded by rainwater. The driver reduced speed again, knowing that he would be approaching a sharp turn at an approximate right angle. (During the journey on the airport highway, the Carabinieri major at the wheel drove in left lane of the highway because the right lane was not only flooded but was obstructed by two concrete blocks well known to regular motorists).
The car was now travelling at a speed of less than 17 mph. In the middle of the turn, a floodlight was illuminated from a rise adjacent to the highway on the right side of the road. The driver immediately breaked. The car then came under fire from the right side of the road for 15 seconds from several automatic weapons. The driver noted from tracer rounds that fire was being directed at the occupants' legs and chest.
When firing ceased, they were ordered out of the car and instructed to kneel approximately 10 meters away from the car. [Calipari was dead]. Despite the fact that he spoke in English, the Carabinieri major was not permitted to show his documents or safe conduct pass to US troops. The major informed the soldiers that he was escorting the released hostage, Mrs. Sgrena, to the airport. At this point, two young soldiers came forward and apologized. The major then realized that Mrs. Sgrena had been wounded. The US military then transported Ms. Sgrena to a hospital inside the Green Zone, followed fifteen minutes later by the Italian major, who had been wounded in the right arm.
The group was travelling in a Toyota Corolla, not an SUV which Il Manifesto had originally reported. Oh, and Col. Mike Caldwell has been shown to be liar by a Italian politician who is a member of the fascist party, AN.
Update: The pictures of the Toyota Corolla are up. There is evidence of directed fire carefully focused through the windows on the driver's side of the car--which were shattered. No sign of a sweeping or scattered burst. I find this degree of deliberate fire allarming. It would have been one thing if panicked troops had swept the vehicle with machine gun fire but the photos suggest something more...careful. With so many DoD special ops, special plans and special intelligence operatives permitted to give orders to troops through circumvention of the chain of command...well, you know. Bad.