20 volleys on the ravine. For what actually the national guardsman Markivu measured out a quarter of a century in an Italian prison
On July 12, a jury trial of the Lombardian city of Pavia convicted a murder case on May 24, 2014 in the Slavyansk region of Italian photo correspondent Andrea Rockelli.
During the most fierce phase of the ATO in the Donbas, he became the first journalist to die. On charges of involvement in the death of Rokkelli, the Italian Themis condemned an Euromaidan activist and a fighter of the Ukrainian National Guard under the call sign “Italian”.
The deputy commander of the platoon battalion named after Kulchytsky, senior sergeant Vitaly Markiv, who has dual citizenship of Ukraine and Italy, the judges determined the punishment in the form of 24 years in prison.
Disagreeing with this verdict, under the walls of the Italian Embassy in Ukraine, activists who are sure of Markiv’s innocence, staged a protest. In turn, President Vladimir Zelensky ordered the Foreign Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine to urgently address the issue of the return of the convicted national guard to his homeland.
The verdict of the court of Pavia is not final. Speaking in defense of the Italian, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, like his lawyers, has already announced the filing of the appeal.
But even without this, the investigation into the history of the death of Rockelli will obviously have a serious sequel. And both in Ukraine and in the Apennines.
Firstly, in Italy they have already started talking about the opening of criminal proceedings on the grounds of Rokkelli’s death and against Commander Markiv in the Kulchitsky battalion – parliamentarian from the Popular Front Bogdan Matkovsky.
Secondly, in itself, the verdict of the National Guard became the first precedent of condemnation of the Ukrainian soldier in Europe based on the events in the Donbas.
Thirdly, on the part of some people’s deputies of Ukraine, in particular Yarosh, appeals to “pack and try” Italians on the territory of our country in retaliation for Markiv have already begun to sound.
It is quite logical that all this in a complex caused a flurry of discussion in Ukrainian society, traditionally divided in assessments.
The “country” decided to study the “Italian case”, relying solely on the legal arguments of the parties and the facts voiced in court. That’s what came out of it.
Tragedy at the move
So, the first claims to Vitaly Markiv from the Italian authorities were put forward two years ago, when he was detained upon arrival from Ukraine at Bologna airport. Then it turned out: the National Guardian sergeant-vacationer is a suspect in the case of the tragedy that happened under Slavyansk.
We are talking about the events of May 24, 2014, when as a result of shelling in the area of Karachun, Italian photographer Andrea Rockelli and the Russian human rights activist who accompanied him (in parallel, he served as a translator) Andrei Mironov were accompanied. At that moment there were two more people with them: French photographer William Rogelon, wounded by mortar shards, and local taxi driver Yevgeny Koshman.
This driver brought journalists to the Andreevka railway crossing area. Here is the plant for the production of ceramic products “Zeus Ceramica”, and on the tracks that day stood the so-called. the “armored train” that held Slavyansk at that moment under his control the leader of the group of separatists Igor Strelkov-Girkin. When the journalists began to approach the relocation to make shots of the situation, they were covered with fire.
Hoping to leave the firing zone of Rokkelli, Mironov and Rogelon rushed to the car (she was waiting for them at the turn), but in vain.
As the Russian human rights activist himself claimed, at the time imprinted on the camera of the Italian photo correspondent, they were caught in crossfire, a shootout ensued between Ukrainian fighters located on the mountain and separatists in the lowlands.
Civilians lay down in the beam – among the bushes and trees, but shells overtook them here.
Total shelling lasted about 20 minutes, as evidenced by the last recording of the camera Rockelli. This fragment was only shown at the Milan Human Rights Festival in May 2017.
As it turns out later, by that time the carabineers had already tapped the phone of Oksana Maksimchuk, Markiva’s mother, trying to track down the location of the national guard. And when he was detained in Bologna, they decided to judge in the Apennines according to local laws (Vitaly has Italian citizenship) in his hometown, Andrea Röckelli.
How Ukrainian security officials circumvented “sharp corners”
The subsequent post-factum of Markiv’s arrest, attempts by the Ukrainian side to secure his transfer to official Kiev, as well as initiatives to create a joint investigation team, were rejected.
In Rome, they made it clear that they did not trust the Prosecutor General’s Office in this matter. The reasons for this can be easily traced if we compare the statements of the then-deputy head of the GPU, Evgeny Yenin, with the official response on the “Rokelly case” sent to the Council of Europe by the Ukrainian side and factual circumstances.
So, Enin at least twice (in July 2017 and the beginning of 2018) assured domestic journalists that the Security Service of Ukraine was in charge of the fact of the death of Rokkelli and Mironov, qualifying him as a terrorist attack. And, ultimately, on Vladimirskaya they came to the conclusion: the journalists died “as a result of shelling by the Russian-terrorist troops.”
Kiev tried to convince European bureaucrats of this, insisting that the National Guard under the command of Karachun in May 2014 were not armed with mortars. Italians were disclosed and other details of the Ukrainian investigation. But they rather testified only to the fact that the establishment of the truth in the case was conducted carelessly.
First, only in the spring of 2015, the first inspection of the crime scene was organized with the participation of the surviving driver Koshman. As the taxi driver told reporters later, then everything was limited to notes in the notebook of the investigator’s girl, and she didn’t even go down into the beam.
Only two years after Rokkelli died (September 28, 2016), law enforcement officers conducted an investigative experiment at the scene of the tragedy. And in custody in black and white it is indicated that the Ukrainian detectives could not determine the direction of the shelling.
Secondly, the evidence that the investigating authorities did not collect evidence was the fact that the police did not even remove the personal belongings of Mironov and Rokkelli from their hotel room. They were handed over to media workers by representatives of the Slavyansk hotel staff in August 2015.
Thirdly, the official response of Ukraine separately mentioned: a survey of local residents did not produce results, because people refused to answer questions, claiming that they do not remember anything. At the same time, residents of Slavyansk, who communicated directly with Mironov and Rokkelli during the last week of their life, testified to the Europeans, reinforcing their position when submitting a complaint to the ECHR.
Fourthly, as father Andrea Rokkelli stated to the media, the investigating authorities of Ukraine provided the Italian prosecutor’s office with the materials of their investigation only after repeated reminders. At the same time, the transferred documents did not contain the results of the ballistic examination, there was no questioning of the key witness William Rogelon. And the crime itself was carried out without determining the probable range of suspects: using phrases such as “unidentified persons in an unidentified place” popular with Ukrainian law enforcement officers.
In sum, these circumstances led the Italians to the fact that the investigation of Ukraine was ineffective, and they began to “dig” on their own.
What exactly is accused of Ukrainian fighter
The initial developments of the Italian investigation in relation to Markiv presented as if the Sergeant of the National Guard shot a group of civilians in a beam at the railway crossing under Andreyevka.
“Working together with a group of unidentified representatives of illegal armed formations (Ukrainian do-it-yourself. – Ed.), Having a position on the Karachun slope as a base and guided by a deliberate criminal purpose, he provoked the death of Italian citizen Andrea Rokkelli, using against the latter (and against with whom the latter made a photo report on the ground) first numerous shots from a firearm, and after Rokkelli hid in a small ravine, in order to save his life, He completed 20 mortar shots at his shelter, aiming in such a way as to more accurately hit the target and get into Andrea Roquelli, who was subsequently killed along with his Russian counterpart Andrei Mironov, as well as seriously wounded French journalist William Rogelon and two other persons of Ukrainian nationality , to identify which is not possible, “- said the first version of the claims against the Italian.
The final text of the charges against Markiv no longer contains any mention of the fact that he personally pulled the trigger.
In the final indictment, he was charged with “providing significant support” to those unknown who shot journalists. That is, Markiv, according to the version adopted by the court, was the gunner (in one of the photos of that time, Vitali is depicted with two radio receivers and a laryngophone for the radio, which, according to the investigation, indicates his role as a “liaison officer” in communication with mortars). And the specific corpus delicti of his actions was that, seeing Rokelly and Co. appearing at the move, the Italian reported this to other servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, “knowing that they were shooting at civilians.”
In view of this, the murder of the photographer is considered deliberate, and Markiva is his accomplice.
In response, Markiv tried to appeal to the fact that in May 2014 a real war was under Slavyansky, the victims of which were by chance media workers. But this argument was rejected after the promulgation of official documents from Ukraine that an “anti-terrorist operation” was being conducted in the Donbas.
Speaking of the charges, Vitaly and his lawyers only confirmed that in the spring of 2014 he was in positions controlled by the Ukrainian military on Karachun as part of the Kulchitsky battalion. And at the service post he was supposed to transmit the coordinates of possible targets and report on any movements within the assigned viewing angle.
At the same time, any involvement in the murder of Rockelli Markiv categorically denied. Pushing on the fact that he himself was armed only with a machine gun, and the other soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were not armed with mortars. True, it is not entirely clear who in this case fired mortars on the territory, which was controlled by the separatists.
An interesting detail was revealed during his interrogation in court, which took place on May 15, 2019. Here the sergeant of the Ukrainian Armed Forces took advantage of the right to remain silent, refusing to give answers to most of the questions asked to him. And he did not confirm the fact of acquaintance with any of the persons presented to him in photographs from among the Ukrainian military, who were at Karachun at the same time as him.
“I am still a soldier and I can not betray my comrades,” he concluded.
What the witnesses showed
The main evidence of Markiv’s guilt, which was indicted by the court, is the testimony of Rocketlli’s colleagues.
First, it is a telephone conversation with journalists, in which the Italian took the blame for the death of Rockelli. The essence of this conversation in the interpretation of the journalist Ilariya Morani was published in the newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“Usually we don’t shoot in the direction of the city and civilians, but when we see the movement, we load heavy artillery. So it happened to the car of two journalists and their translator. We’re shooting from here a distance of one and a half kilometer,” the words “captain” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which was Markiv.
At the trial, Morani showed: she led a conversation in the text, which was followed by another Italian journalist, Marcello Fauci, after the tragedy after the tragedy of May 24, 2014. He was familiar with Markiv from the time of Euromaidan and kept in touch with Vitaly after the Italian joined the National Guard.
Note that the audio recording of this conversation was not preserved among journalists, and its content is known only from the words of the participants. At the same time, the participants in the dialogue, Markiv and Fauchi, did not confirm the Morani’s words in the court that Vitali had admitted his involvement in the death of Rockelli.
Secondly, prosecutors relied on testimony provided by William Roghelon – a direct witness to the death of Rockelli.
During interrogation in 2017, he called Karachun as a firing point, but on November 30, 2018 was already less categorical. Rogelon said he did not see who exactly shot at them, but he suspects that it was the Ukrainian army.
The opposite version, in turn, was voiced by the witnesses of the Italian defense. Several Ukrainian servicemen and law enforcement officers, including the National Guard Commander Nikolai Balan, were questioned in Pavia’s court. They stood on the position that Markiv did not correct the fire, and certainly did not shoot at journalists.
In the end, the prosecutor for the murder case, Andrea Röckelli, asked the court for Markiv’s punishment of 17 years ’imprisonment, and Vitaly’s defense demanded that he be fully acquitted and released.
The jury of Pavia listened to the arguments of the state prosecution, giving the National Guard under sergeant maximum sanction in the form of almost a quarter of a century of imprisonment. What arguments guided the servants of Themis, it will finally become clear after the publication of the text of the sentence.
The information is taken from: https://strana.ua/articles/analysis/211318-sodejstvoval-osushchestvleniju-minometnoho-obstrela-zhurnalistov-za-chto-natshvardejtsu-markivu-otmerjali-chetvert-veka-v-italjansjrjanajrj.