Rocchelli trial: Ukraine celebrates while Italy is silent and awaits reasons for the judgment

Reasons are expected in January. In his hometown Vitaly Markiv was welcomed as a national hero. The disappointment of family members

OSSIGENO 11th November 2020 – Ukraine enthusiastically celebrated Vitaly Markiv as a national hero, as a victim fortunate to have escaped the clutches of Italian justice., The 31 year old former Ukrainian National Guard volunteer, who was born in Ukraine and then obtained Italian citizenship on the 12th July 2019 had been sentenced by the Assize Court of Pavia to 24 years in prison for the death of the photojournalist Andy Rocchelli. Then, on November 3rd 2020 in Milan, after more than three years in prison, Vitaly Markiv was fully acquitted on appeal and released.

Markiv triumphantly returned to his homeland and participated in various celebrations, press conferences, and meetings in which a future full of satisfactions was predicted for him. This was happening in Ukraine where the media talked about nothing else for days. The Ukrainian community in Italy followed the hearings cheering for his release and in recent days has shared this atmosphere, flooding social media with good wishes for the young soldier.

In Italy, the Milan judgement had little reverberation just as the sensational sentence of Pavia had had little in 2019. Newspapers and television have talked little about this story. Few Italians know what the Pavia judges had decided and what contradictory conclusions the Milan judges reached a year later. Few know. So the little dispute engaged on early one by commentators between backers of innocence and the backers of guilt did not generate much heat.

Those who followed the Milan trial made the only wise statement that can be said in these cases: it is necessary to wait for the reasons for the judgement which will be announced within 90 days.

ALONGSIDE MARKIV – On the 3rd November in the courtroom in Milan there was once again the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov who had personally followed the first degree sentence and almost all the second degree hearings. Outside the court he posed for photos with Markiv and with the supporters present, photos immediately uploaded on the Minister’s Twitter profile: with its first comment “Joy! Glory to Ukraine! “. Then, the following morning, the photo of Markiv in uniform clenching his fist in victory next to the Minister on a private jet bound for Kiev. A few hours later a video. Markiv takes a selfie in Kiev’s Santa Sophia square in front of a banner so large that it covers the entire facade of a building: #FreeMarkiv it reads. And the minister Tweets again: “We promised it to his mother.” The arrival at Kiev airport was covered by several national newspapers, with soldier Markiv having just got off the plane waving the Ukrainian flag and receiving a large bouquet of flowers, and then holding a press conference. In the meantime,. on Twitter, Volodymyr Zelens’kyj, the President of Ukraine, wrote: “I welcome the decision of the Italian court to acquit the Ukrainian national guard Vitaly Markiv. His liberation is a victory of justice! The hashtag #FreeMarkiv can be left behind as history. Grateful to all the team that worked for this victory!” tagging the official profiles of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. An impressive mobilization, which Minister Avakov had confirmed outside the Tribunal also to Ossigeno per l’informazione “Ukraine does not abandon its soldiers”.

THE SILENCE IN ITALY – The scant attention that the Italian press has devoted to the trial, especially the second degree of the trial, is inexplicable. Andrea Rocchelli’s parents are visibly disappointed, but have decided to maintain the low profile with which they followed the trial, repeating each time that they are not interested in finding a culprit at any cost, but in obtaining truth and justice also in the public interest.

THE MOTHER OF ANDREA Interviewed by Francesco Battistini in Corriere della Sera on November 5th, Elisa Signori commented: “This appeal sentence has only acquitted someone convicted at the first-degree. But it certainly cannot deny the evidence and testimony gathered in six years of excellent investigative work “. And she also spoke of the heavy climate that prevailed throughout the trial:”The insults of the Ukrainian media networks and some Italian social networks are not surprising: the web is stirred up by professional haters. Attacks from Ukrainian institutional spokespersons appear to be more serious. One among many: Anton Gerashenko, Deputy Minister of the Interior who said our family was looking for cash compensation.”’

REMEMBER TO KNOW – Even the Italian authorities have remained silent. Apart from a tweet from the Speaker of the House Roberto Fico at the beginning of the Milan trial, the Italian institutions have remained silent even in the face of political pressure exerted by Ukraine, by senior members of its government, to overturn Markiv’s sentence. The deputy attorney general in the courtroom on November 3rd, shortly before the judgement felt obliged to warn in replying to some statements made in the speeches of the defence; “Here we do not engage in politics, we do not take a position for the Ukrainian state or for the separatists but we only examine a crime and its responsibility”. , IN PAVIA – Andy’s hometown does not want to forget. The children of the high school painted all the concrete blocks that prevent heavy vehicles from accessing downtown streets with his image. On some they have added writings taken from his reports and from famous songs. Those who walk around the city cannot help but see them, think of the horror of war and the hope of peace.

Giacomo Bertoni

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