The Rocchelli Trial. The Prosecuting Magistrate asks for a 17 year sentence for Vitaly Markiv

In the indictment the prosecuting magistrate laid out the elements that, in his view, prove the accusation. He also requested a trial for the defendant’s direct superior. The sentence is scheduled for July 12th.

This report by Giacomo Bertoni was compiled by Ossigeno per l’informazione in collaboration with La Provincia Pavese, the 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 being tried. 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.

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Seventeen years in prison for collusion in murder: this is the sentence requested on Friday 24th May 2019 by the Prosecuting Magistrate Andrea Zanoncelli for Vitaly Markiv, the only defendant for the killing of the Italian photojournalist Andy Rocchelli in the trial underway in the Court of Assizes of Pavia. The deputy public prosecutor Zanoncelli took over two and a half hours for his summing up. He reconstructed and put in order all the elements that emerged during the trial and concluded that they prove the guilt of the Italian-Ukrainian soldier.

“Today is a sad day for several reasons”, said the prosecutor. Andy Rocchelli was killed exactly five years ago, on May 24th and through a cruel game of fate, May 24th is also the birthday of Andy’s son. Then the PM began the detailed reconstruction of fifteen elements that would prove Markiv’s guilt.

”We have heard several times about the state of war, about the danger of that area. Nobody – said the PM Zanoncelli – questions these elements. But Andy Rocchelli was there as a journalist and the task of journalists is to report on new events. Rocchelli was there to document, with his photographs, the aggressive conduct of the police towards the demonstrators in Piazza Maidan”.

The public prosecutor added that the ballistic experts pointed out that Rocchelli was killed by shrapnel from explosive devices and mortar shells. Furthermore, the declarations of soldiers and generals of the National Guard admitted the presence of mortars on the Karachun hill, even though they were in use by the army and not by the National Guard to which the defendant belonged.

The prosecutor read some excerpts from the statements of the only survivor, the French journalist William Roguelon, who recounted when he and Rocchelli became aware of the first shots against them, how they took refuge in a nearby ditch, as mortar shells started to fall around them, and finally that a group of pro-Russian soldiers let him go when he realized he was a journalist.

Zanoncelli quoted a statement that would show a preconceived hostility of representatives of the Ukrainian National Guard towards journalists. In their view, “the journalists who were making videos and documenting the violence perpetrated against the civilian population were a pain in the ass.”

For this reason – said the PM – when Markiv spotted that car, believing that journalists were inconvenient witnesses, he started the firing”.

The prosecuting magistrate also asked the Court of Assizes of Pavia for authorization to proceed against an officer of the Ukrainian National Guard who was the direct superior of Markiv. The Court of Assizes will forward the request to the Rome Public Prosecutor together with the sentence which is scheduled for July 12th.

THE RELATIVES – At the end of the hearing the parents, Elisa Signori and Rino Rocchelli, commented on the request of the prosecutor: “We admire the great effort made, by the analysis of all possible hypotheses and by the precise reconstruction, which we find plausible. We have never wanted revenge, what matters is that the truth is established. Journalists cannot be subjected to violence and be the target of mortar attacks”.

On the same day, in the morning, more than three hundred people, including many high school students, took part in a silent walk through the streets of Pavia in memory of Andy Rocchelli, on the fifth anniversary of his death. The initiative, entitled “From barriers to bridges”, was promoted by Andy’s friends. The walk was attended by representatives of the Italian National Press Federation and the Lombard Association of Journalists, both civil parties in the trial.


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