On June, 12, the court of Italian Pavia sentenced fighter of the National Guard of Ukraine Vitaliy Markiv to 24 years in custody.
Who is Vitaliy Markiv?
Markiv is an anti-terrorist operation (held in Donbas) soldier, born in 1989, in Ternopil region. In 2003 moved with mother and sister to Italy, where obtained Italian citizenship.
In December 2013, during Maidan, Markiv went back to Ukraine; at the beginning of anti-terrorist operation in Donbas, he became a volunteer in Kylchytsky battalion, which participated in battles near Slovyansk (Donetsk region).
In 2017, Vitaliy went to visit mother in Italy but was arrested in the airport of Bologna.
What Markiv is being accused of?
Markiv was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the killing of Italian photo correspondent Andrea Rocchelli, who died from a mortar fire near Slovyansk in May. 2014.
The court trial on Markiv started on June 6, 2018, in Pavia, Rocchelli’s native city.
The same day Italian National Press Federation, Lombardi Associates, and Cesura Lab filed a lawsuit against Ukraine.
Due to the suit was issued incorrectly, consideration of the case on the merits started only in November.
The prosecution stated Markiv was a unit commander, and he knew that there were reporters and pointed on them.
In particular, the prosecution stated that there were numerous mortar attacks (about 30), and they were prolonged.
Prosecution witnesses – French journalist William Roglon, who stayed alive while shelling, and also two Italian journalists, who spoke to Markiv by phone.
At the same time, as Hromadske notes, none of these witnesses could provide neither direct proof of Markiv’s guilt nor that Rokelli was killed from shelling by the Ukrainian army.
Testimonies of the Italian reporters had many contradictions – from different dates and places to different languages they allegedly speak to Markiv. Roglon also contradicted his own testimony on different trials.
Markiv’s lawyer, Italian attorney, Raffaele della Valle stated his client wasn’t then a unit commander, but the soldier of National Guard. Thus, he couldn’t give orders.
The defense also provided court documents taken from Ukraine. Particularly, the defense proved Markiv’s battalion had not got mortar shells, and location didn’t allow to see the foothills of Mountain Karachun, where the journalist died.
Markiv himself denies all the charges.
Prosecutor General Deputy Eugen Enin stated Rocchelli visited so-called “grey zone” without coherence with official authorities of Ukraine.
At the same time, May and June 2014, there fierce fighting for Slovyansk and Mountain Karachun was lasting.
Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov appealed an official statement to Ambassador of Italy in Ukraine, in which noted the proceedings materials use such definitions as ‘pro-Russian rebels-separatists’, ‘civil conflict’, ‘aggression of Ukrainian army’ etc.
The MIA, according to norms of international conventions, emphasized that there is Russian hostility against Ukraine, so Ukraine is forced to fight back to save its sovereignty.
Avakov also noted Rocchelli was warned about Mountain Karachun was the spotlight of fighting, but the reporter went on a trip without authorization.
On the eve of the sentence
The Italian prosecutor demanded that Markiv must be sentenced to 17 years in prison.
The lawyers asked for the acquittal, indicating that:
- You can’t say exactly who shot and from where that day.
- These people became victims of the war.
- The data of experts from the prosecution and the defense are the same, but it is impossible to clearly establish what type of weapon was used.
The lawyer also drew attention to the lack of shot damages on the roof of a taxi, but only to the presence of side damages.
And this, according to her, indicates that Markiv could not shoot at a taxi from above and also from a distance of more than 1.5 km.
The lawyer also noted that Markiv’s duty was to inform management about the approach of suspicious individuals. Therefore, the soldier carried out an army order and there was nothing illegal in his actions.
"According to the military criminal code of Italy, a soldier cannot be punished for executing an order, because a soldier in a war must comply with it, and not discuss it," Rabetti stressed.
And yet, Markiv was found guilty.