In Russia’s Shadow: details of Markiv case exposed in Italian Senate in Rome

Executive secretary of the Italian Radicals Silvja Manzi (centre), Vitaliy Markiv’s lawyer Raffaele Della Valle (right) and Gian Domenico Caiazza, head of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Italy (left) at the press conference in the Italian Senate, Rome, July 25, 2019 

International, War in the Donbas

Oles Horodetsky, president of the Christian Society of Ukrainians in Italy, coordinator of Euromaidan Rome reported on his Facebook page that a press conference entitled In Russia’s Shadow, dedicated to the Markiv case, was held in the Italian Senate in Rome on July 25, 2019.

The press conference was organized by the Italian Radicals party with the support of Senator Emma Bonino. Speakers included executive secretary of the Italian Radicals Silvja Manzi, Vitaliy Markiv’s lawyer Raffaele Della Valle and Gian Domenico Caiazza, head of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Italy, which brings together over 8,000 Italian lawyers.

“In her introductory speech, Silvja Manzi noted that her political party has always promoted fair and equal access to justice. She stressed that, despite wanting to establish the truth about the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, the court in Pavia had done nothing but search for the guilty party.” writes Oles Horodetsky.

In her report, Manzi stressed that the court should rely on concrete evidence, and not on “some kind of ideological or political circumstances”. She also dwelt on some details of the Markiv case covered by the Italian media, citing excerpts from press articles that were totally incorrect and unacceptable in terms of journalistic ethics. Silvja Manzi also spoke about Russia’s influence that contributed strongly to the formation of public opinion.

Press conference on Markiv case held in Italian Senate, Rome, July 25, 2019

Vitaliy Markiv’s lawyer, Raffaele Della Valle underlined that he did not want to comment or evaluate the decision of the Pavia judges, because he knows there are many honest professionals working in the Italian judicial system.

“But, the sentence pronounced by the Pavia court undermines our faith in the criminal justice system as a whole, said Della Valle. He added that there was no sense in waiting for the court’s report on their decision in 90 days, because 2 plus 2 cannot equal 5. Della Valle also stressed that no one could say or prove from which side they were firing, not to mention who was actually shooting. So, how could the court sentence Markiv to 24 years? For what?” writes Oles Horodetsky.

He also quoted the full text of all the allegations and explained that there was no concrete evidence to confirm even one of the points. He dwelt in detail on the position taken by Markiv’s defense team, arguing that the shelling and gunshots came from the side of the Russian mercenary troops deployed nearby.

Della Valle noted that the prosecution team had refused to travel to the scene of the tragic events in Sloviansk and conduct onsite investigations and expertise, which, in his opinion, constituted a very strange and incomprehensible attitude on their part. Such an investigation could have exonerated Markiv of all complicity in Rocchelli’s death. Moreover, the prosecutor is a key actor in any criminal case and is obliged to investigate all the circumstances, evidence and allegations.

Raffaele Della Valle called the court’s disregard of the video from the scene of the tragedy filmed by French Photojournalist William Roguelon, where Russian interpreter Andrei Mironov speaks of crossfire, a sniper nearby and a mortar firing in the vicinity, a gross miscarriage of justice.

“Even if we assume that the court fully accepted the prosecutor’s arguments, how can we explain the seven years that were added to the initial demand of 17 years? When speaking about Vitaliy, the prosecutor even pointed to his good behavior and his impeccable military demeanour…”

Della Valle promised that he would not give up and would continue to seek justice for Vitaliy Markiv.

The head of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Italy stated that he was not familiar with all the details of the Markiv affair, but knew that Raffaele Della Valle would not convene a press conference if there were no serious violations in this case. Therefore, the association will keep a close eye on all the news pertaining to this case.

In conclusion, Oles Horodetsky underlined that the press conference in the Italian Senate was an important step forward in the fight for justice in the Markiv case.

Poster by Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko

Senior sergeant of the National Guard of Ukraine Vitaliy Markiv was arrested in Italy on June 31, 2017 on suspicion of killing Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian translator Andrei Mironov near occupied Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast in May 2014. Markiv has consistently denied his complicity in the incident. The trial started on July 6, 2018; there have been 17 court hearings. On July 12, 2019, the Pavia court sentenced Vitaliy Markiv to 24 years, a verdict that stunned the defense, the prosecution and those following this trial.
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