Tributes have been paid at a state funeral for the Italian secret agent who died in Iraq while saving a freed journalist. Nicola Calipari was killed by US forces as he escorted Giuliana Sgrena to safety just hours after her release from captivity. They were on their way to Baghdad airport when American troops opened fire. There are conflicting accounts of the incident.
The Pentagon says the vehicle was approaching at high speed. But Sgrena, who herself was injured and is now in hospital, says she cannot believe they fired accidentally. Italy’s president, prime minister and senior intelligence officials led the ceremony. Outside, hundreds of people lined the route of the funeral cortege while thousands more stopped work to watch or listen to the proceedings which were broadcast live on television and radio across the country.
Calipari was a highly experienced hostage negotiator and intelligence officer, who had helped secure the release of two Italian aid workers taken captive in Iraq last year. He has become a national hero since his death and his killing has caused outrage and heaped further pressure on Silvio Berlusconi’s government to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq.