Markiv guilty: sentenced to 24 years by Court of Assizes

For complicity in the murder of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli in the Ukrainian region of Donbass on May 24th 2014

This report by Giacomo Bertoni was produced by Ossigeno per l’informazione in collaboration with La Provincia Pavese, National Union of Italian Reporters and the Journalists Order of Lombardy to supplement the media reports with an objective, timely and exhaustive account of the progress of the trial underway in the Court of Pavia where the alleged perpetrator of the killing of the Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and the Russian journalist Andrey Mironov is charged.

This text has been published on the website and has been sent to the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media in Vienna, who is following the story closely.

Read the previous articles here

On July 12th 2019, the Court of Assizes of Pavia sentenced Vitaly Markiv, to 24 years in prison for complicity in the murder of the Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, 30, killed near Sloviansk, in the Ukrainian region of Donbass on May 24th 2014, together with the Russian Andrei Mironov who was his translator.

The Court of Assizes rejected the defence’s arguments that, on the one hand, had framed the episode as an involuntary collateral damage of the on-going armed conflict, on the other it described the defendant as a soldier who did not have use of mortars but had only the task of monitoring and reporting to his superiors suspicious movements that occurred in that area. The prosecutor challenged these arguments by stating that journalists were very awkward witnesses whose photos and videos testifying to the abuses and violence committed against the civilian population were the last straw.

Vitaly Markiv, 29, Italian-Ukrainian, was a soldier of the Ukrainian National Guard and was the only defendant in the trial. The prosecutor Andrea Zanoncelli sought a sentence of 17 years for his complicity in murder, acknowledging the general extenuating circumstances that reduced the penalty by a third. The Court did not grant the extenuating circumstances and applied the prescribed penalty for the crime of murder.

On that 24th May 2014, together with Rocchelli there were the Russian interpreter Mironov, who also died, and the French photojournalist William Roguelon, who saved himself by fleeing while many mortar rounds fell around the taxi that had taken them to that area where an attack had been reported in the previous days. Rocchelli, Mironov, Roguelon had gone to that area at risk to document the clashes between national forces and pro-Russian rebel formations.

Interviewed immediately after the tragic accident, Roguelon said that at least 40 mortar rounds had been fired at them and one had hit the ditch where Rocchelli and Mironov had taken refuge.

(Watch here the video)

GB ASP (wt)

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