Vitaliy Markiv talking with lawyer Donatella Rapelli, Pavia, May 24, 2019
The Prosecutor declared that senior sergeant of the National Guard of Ukraine Vitaliy Markiv did not actually kill Rocchelli, but that he informed the National Guard Command about civilian movements near Zeus Ceramica factory, Donetsk Oblast. The Command then contacted a military unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which opened mortar fire on the foreign journalists. Chief Prosecutor Andrea Gianoncelli insisted that, as Vitaliy Markiv was stationed on Karachun Mountain, he could not help but know who would be targeted in the attack.
Gianoncelli asserted that Markiv was an accomplice, but not a direct participant of the crime. Without giving any concrete arguments pointing to intentional murder, the Prosecutor summed up his closing statement with the following words:
“They were targeting and killing journalists there. And that’s that!”
Given the gravity of the crime, he explained that, according to the Criminal Code, the defendant should get up to 24 years in prison. However, due to mitigating circumstances (Vitaliy Markiv has a clean record and has shown good behaviour in court-Ed.), the Prosecutor decided to reduce the prison term by one third, that is, to 16 years, but added one more year for the assassination attempt on French photographer William Rugelon, who was wounded in the cross-fire on May 24, 2014, when Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian translator Andriy Mironov were killed.
Markiv’s mother Oksana Maksymchuk reported that Vitaliy reacted normally to the Prosecutor’s statement and continues to plead “not guilty”.
“It’s very worrisome to hear the Prosecutor make such strong demands. I hope the defense will prove my son’s innocence, and that the jury will come to an objective decision.” – said Oksana Maksymchuk.
Rocchelli’s family praised the Prosecutor’s statement, and claimed that they were very pleased with Gianoncelli’s re-construction of the events in Donbas.
“We confirm that we are not seeking revenge. We don’t know whether the term of imprisonment is sufficient or not; that’s for the Prosecutor’s Office to decide. It’s up to them to judge what is fair and what is not, according to defendant’s level of guilt.” – said Andrea’s father, Rino Rocchelli.
The Prosecutor also accused Ukrainian MP Bohdan Matkivsky, former commander of Markiv’s National Guard unit, of being responsible for the death of the Italian photographer. Gianoncelli asked the jury to examine Matkivsky’s involvement in Rocchelli’s death with the purpose of filing a lawsuit against the Ukrainian MP. Matkivsky has yet to comment on this development.
At the beginning of the trial, the jury completely rejected the request filed by the defense to conduct an additional investigation in situ in Ukraine.
“Seeing that the event happened many years ago, and thanks to what was revealed at the investigation stage, the request is denied.” – announced Judge Annamaria Gatto.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Andrea Rocchelli’s death in Donbas, residents of his hometown Pavia held a mournful procession to the photojournalist’s grave.
The court will meet again on June 14 and June 21. The sentence will be announced on July 12.
All photos: Nataliya Kudryk, Radio Liberty