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Italy to Challenge US Findings on Agent Shooting by US Troops

"Camp Darby away from Iraq" reads in Italian the banner held by a group of demonstrators in front of Camp Darby, a US military base in Pisa, Italy
Italy is to publish its own conclusions on the killing of intelligence officer Nicola Calipari, who died under American fire at a checkpoint in Baghdad on March Fourth. The United States released its report Saturday, clearing American soldiers of responsibility in the killing.

Italy did not sign off on the conclusions reached by the Americans on how things went the night of March 4 in Baghdad, when U.S. forces opened fire at a checkpoint, killing Italian secret agent Nicola Calipari.

The agent had just secured the release of an Italian journalist who had been kept hostage by her Iraqi captors for a month.

A report released by the U.S. military Saturday clears the soldiers of responsibility in the killing, saying the car ignored warning signals to stop and that Italy failed to communicate the mission to the Americans.

But Italy does not agree and says it will explain why in a report to be released later Monday. The foreign ministry says, on its web site, that the Italy's account will illustrate problems of coordination with authorities in Iraq and with the rules of engagement at checkpoints.

Former Foreign Minister Gianni De Michelis says the Italian government is doing the right thing by maintaining its position and giving its reading of the events.

The Italian report is expected to contend the U.S. forces were informed of the operation, several hours before the shooting. In addition, Italy says the United States was informed that its agent had secured the release of the hostage, 25 minutes before the shooting.

Newspaper reports Monday say Italy also claims the evidence at the site of the shooting was removed too quickly, making a proper inspection impossible.

Italy has opened its own criminal probe into the incident. Magistrates have asked ballistic experts to examine the car to reconstruct the shooting.

Two months after the tragedy, the former foreign minister said the matter needs to be closed.

Mr. De Michelis says it is in the interest of both Italy and the United States to move beyond this affair, as soon as possible.

Italy has been one of United States' strongest allies in Iraq, following the war. Italy has 3,000 troops based in Nassiriyah, in southern Iraq. However Rome has been coming under increasing pressure to withdraw those troops.