“Markiv is innocent, he has always been a friend of reporters”

The defence lawyer Della Valle made an interpretation of the evidence very different from the indictment of the prosecuting magistrate. Conclusions to be reached on July 5th and the sentence on July 12th.

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 ossigeno.info 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

“Vitaly Markiv has always defended journalists sent to Ukraine, he collaborated with them and they considered him a friend. The preliminary investigation and the indictment of the prosecutor have neglected important elements that radically change the position of Markiv” affirmed the lawyer Raffaele Della Valle on Friday 21st June 2019, in the courtroom of the Court of Assizes in Pavia, in his pleadings in the defence of the only individual accused in this trial for the murder of the photojournalist Andy Rocchelli.

From 10.30 to 17:00, Della Valle challenged point by point the indictment of the prosecutor, Andrea Zanoncelli, who had asked for 16 years in prison for Markiv. According to Della Valle, the attitude of the prosecutor was “hypercritical”. “Only the elements that are useful for the conviction have been chosen and underlined, while – said the lawyer – relevant data have been omitted because they are contrary to the thesis of the accusation. He has shut himself up in the bulwark of certainties, working in only one direction. Believing in Markiv’s innocence does not mean being against Andrea Rocchelli’s family, but it does mean rejecting the idea of ​​finding a culprit at all costs. We must find “the culprit”, not a culprit. “

Attorney Della Valle cited the article by journalist Ilaria Morani published in the Corriere della Sera online May 25th 2014, the day after the murder of Rocchelli. “This article – said Della Valle – has become the main focus of the accusation. And yet it is an imprecise and superficial article. It says that Markiv is the commander of the army and that he was on the command tower at the top of the hill. Actually Markiv is a simple soldier of the National Guard and on the hill he was near the TV antenna, a strategic objective of the conflict “.

The lawyer then recalled the collaborative relationships between Markiv and the journalists present on the spot: “For them, Markiv was a source of information, there were relations of trust and friendship. If Markiv had actually told them on the phone that he had killed their friend Andy, the relationships would be interrupted. Instead they continued: days later the journalist Fauci visited Markiv in the hospital and asked him for help to recover a bulletproof vest, a jacket that Markiv immediately arranged for him to have. Would journalists continue to meet with their friend’s killer? Is Markiv’s behaviour the behaviour of those who want to kill journalists? Several times he repeated to them, also in the phone call after the death of Rocchelli, not to approach the hill because the place was affected by armed clashes that were intensifying “.

The lawyer then reconstructed the dynamics of the attack that took place on May 24th 2014, costing the lives of Andy Rocchelli and Andrei Mironov: “The journalists walked and took photographs without anything happening. The shots started when this fifth man appeared, dressed in civilian clothes, who then followed them into the ditch. The taxi driver, who the prosecution decided not to cite in the trial, says that during the shooting Mironov explained that they were under crossfire and that they would have to wait for the shooting to end. In that moment the only Ukrainians present were located 1700 metres away on the hill. How could they recognize from that distance that they were journalists? It was impossible to see them and recognize them, useless to shoot blindly with machine guns at that distance”.

Della Valle also wanted to refute the idea, maintained by the civil parties, that Rocchelli went in search of danger. “We could never endorse a story so unworthy, vulgar and ridiculous,” he said. Rocchelli was a serious and experienced professional. This is recognized by all. The context, however, must be examined, and it is a context of war, with constant armed clashes. Journalists themselves say that it was too dangerous to go and take photographs in that place, as the ambassador Romano and the owner of Zeus Ceramica also remembered”.

The defence will conclude it summing up at the hearing on the 5th July, while the judgement is set for Friday 12th July.

GB (wt)

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