Justice for Rocchelli. A fresh postponement of the trial in Pavia

The trial will resume on the 23rd November. In the meantime, Ukraine will be again notified of the request by the relatives of the Italian photo-journalist killed in Ukraine in 2014 for the trial details. There was tension outside the courtroom.

This account by Giacomo Bertoni has been compiled in collaboration among Ossigeno per l’informazione,  La Provincia Pavese (an online daily newspaper), Unione Nazionale Cronisti Italiani (the national union of Italian court reporters), Ordine  Giornalisti Lombardia (the Lombardy branch of the professional organisation of journalists)to complete media coverage with an objective record precise and exhaustive of the evolution of the trial underway in the court of Pavia of the person allegedly responsible for the killing of the Italian photo-journalist Andrea Rocchelli and the Russian journalist Andrej Mironov. This text has been published on the Ossigeno web site and has been sent to the OSCE Representative for Press Freedom in Vienna who is closely following the affair.

The trial of the 29 year old Italo-Ukrainian, Vitaly Markiv has been postponed until the 23rd November 2018. Markiv has been charged with the murders of the Italian photo-journalist Andy Rocchelli and the dissident Russian writer Andrej Mironov, killed in Ukraine on the 24th May 2014 whilst preparing a reportage to document the suffering of the civilian population of Donbass because of the clashes between the pro-Russian separatists and the army of Kiev.

On Friday the 14th September 2018 the second session was opened a little after 9 a.m. by the president of the Pavia court, Annamaria Gatto with a minute’s silence dedicated to the victims of Morandi bridge collapse in Genoa. Then the judge displayed a document to the parties in the case and said, “Yesterday we received a registered letter from the Ukrainian Embassy. It states that notification from the civil parties citing Ukraine as civilly responsible in the trial was delivered belatedly and without respecting the established procedures.”

The relatives of Andy Rocchelli, constituting a civil party, as did the Italian Federation of Journalists , the Lombard branch of the journalists union and Cesura (the group of freelance photographers of which Andrea Rocchelli was a member) had asked if Ukraine could be called to respond, also in terms of financial compensation, for the death of the photo-journalist from Pavia. The request had been made. However as the court revealed, it had not been sent twenty days before the court session. Moreover the request had been delivered by a court official to the Ukrainian Embassy whilst the Hague Convention envisages a procedure with must involve directly the Ukrainian Justice Ministry. That is a long procedure which can take up to 60 to 90 days.

The lawyers Alessandra Ballerini and Emanuele Tambuscio who represent the Rocchelli family have accepted fixing the new hearing on the 23rd November 2018. “We will take measures to forward again the request to Ukraine respecting the Hague Convention. The procedure, they explained, is very long but the presence of Ukraine at the trial is fundamental to obtaining the answers we are looking for.”

The postponement has been reluctantly accepted by the lawyer Raffaele Della Valle who is defending Vitaly Markiv. “Our client – he explained – is in detention. A postponement means lengthening still further his detention. However we are favourable because we believe that applying rigorously all the requirements can contribute to getting to the truth in this case.”

The judge Annamaria Gatto has, therefore, confirmed the postponement “with the scope of rectifying any possible invalidity of the request.” Besides dealing with the preliminary questions, on Friday the 23rd November the first two witnesses will be heard.

Among the public attending the hearing there were representatives of the Ukrainian community in Italy and representatives of the anti-Fascist network in Pavia.

At the end of the hearing, outside the courtroom there were moments of tension between the two groups which necessitated the intervention of several police officers. “We don’t accept this adversarial position. Oles Horodetskyy president of the association of Ukrainian Christians in Italy shouted “We are on the same side as the Rocchelli family, we want the truth because we are convinced of the innocence of Vitaly”. Mauro Vanetti of the anti-Fascist network replied, “You are paid by the Ukrainian consulate, you should be ashamed of yourselves, you are showing no respect for the Rocchelli family.”

Giacomo Bertoni
This article can be freely reproduced on the condition of retaining the author’s signature and the introductory note.

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