Rocchelli Trial: former Italian ambassador speaks

The former ambassador said that the Ukrainian authorities have never delivered detailed reports on the investigation. According to the ballistic expert many elements are missing.

This report  by Giacomo Bertoni was produced by Ossigeno per l’Informazionein collaboration with La Provincia Pavese, National Union of Italian Journalists  and the Order of Journalists 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 of the alleged perpetrator of the killing of the Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and the Russian journalist Andrey Mironov. This text has been published on 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 Friday the 12th April 2019, in the hearing of the trial for the murder of photojournalist Andy Rocchelli, for which Vitaly Markiv is accused, the Court of Assizes of Pavia heard the testimony of Fabrizio Romano, Italian ambassador to Ukraine at the time in May 2014 when Rocchelli was killed.

Fabrizio Romano and his colleagues  were the first to learn, in the late afternoon of May 24th, that the photojournalist Rocchelli and the Russian journalist Andrei Mironov who was with him, had died. The ambassador said that he immediately took action to recover the body and return it to Italy on May 28th.

“The situation was very complex, so my colleagues  and I constantly followed all the agencies and newspaper web sites– Romano explained -. On the evening of May 24th, a news agency reported that some journalists had been injured. After some verification calls, we learned that unfortunately Andrea Rocchelli was dead“.

At that point the complex procedure for the recovery of the body was begun. “A few hours later, instructions arrived from Minister Mogherini herself. It was necessary – the ambassador recalled– to establish a security corridor which was possible thanks to the collaboration of the Ukrainian government”.

Responding to questions from the lawyer Raffaele Della Valle, defender of the accused Vitaly Markiv, Fabrizio Romano confirmed that, in the weeks before the attack claimed the life of the Italian photojournalist, the embassy and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs crisis unit had issued appeals to Italian citizens to leave that area, given the plummeting situation.

The killing of Rocchelli and Mironov, and the wounding of the French journalist William Roguelon, were immediately echoed by the local media. The embassy immediately moved to urge the Ukrainian state authorities to act.

“They gave us many oral reassurances and– Romano said  – there were written discussions with the Ukrainian foreign minister and with President Poroshenko himselfDespite the numerous updates on the investigations, however, they never gave us detailed reports on the content of the investigations themselves.”

During the hearing, Luca Soldati, a forensic ballistics expert and defence consultant, who participated in the analysis that the Scientific Branch  of Parma conducted on Rocchelli’s backpack was also heard,: “We have very little information available– said Soldati -, just think that the analysis of the taxi can only be done from a video made by a local TV. We need to know the exact model of the car and the distances. We should have carried out surveys in the area where the attack took place, and we should be able to reproduce what happened using the same weapons and the same car”.

Regarding the weapons used in the conflict, Soldati added: “Both the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russians use weapons typical of the Soviet army. The Ak-74 that Markiv carries in some photos is also a Soviet rifle. It is a coarse weapon, an assault rifle designed for burst shooting and not for precision shooting “.

The next hearing of the trial has been set for Friday the 17th May.

Giacomo Bertoni

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