The second court hearing on the appeal against Vitaliy Markiv, the National Guard sentenced to 24 years in prison for alleged involvement in the deaths of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and Russian translator Andrei Mironov, has ended in an appeals court in Milan. The Ukrainian community in Italy, which did not agree with the Ukrainian’s arrest, staged a rally in support of Markiv. About 40 people with posters and flags stood under the courthouse to support the National Guard.
The members of the commission for the investigation revision, which consists of Ukrainian, Russian, and foreign human rights activists, told how convincing the conclusions of the Italian court in the case of Vitaly Markiv had been. They announced their position during a press conference at the press centre of the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.
“We see contradictory conclusions of the court. Lots of points were uncertain and unclear. The vision of the case by the court and the Italian media is one-sided,” Oleksandra Matviychuk, chairman of the board of civil liberties, the civil liberties centre, said.
Dmytro Borko, an expert at the Memorial Human Rights Center, said that the court’s conclusions based on facts and evidence, by contrast to the investigation performance, surprised him unpleasantly. “The description of the investigation was of high quality and detailed, but the court’s conclusion contained many contradictions. Yes, the main witness is the French journalist William Rogelon, because the court could not interrogate anyone else. On the one hand, the court’s conclusion said that he was in a state of shock, but on the other hand, the court emphasises that he tried to provide information distancing from his feelings, operating only on the facts,” he explained.
But Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer and head of the Centre for International Defense Assistance, stressed that the main task of the commission is to remain neutral and objective. “Recently, the defence has filed several very substantive procedural requests. The result’s fairness will depend on how they will be considered. Our task today is to remain neutral, but if we talk about our expertise, we will evaluate the application of fair justice according to human rights,” she said.
Among the peculiarities of the Italian investigation, the members of the commission noted the questionable application of international law by a national court. “From the position of international law, what happened in the East in May is an armed conflict. But, it is a criminal article for murder, which was applied not for committing a war crime. The Italian prosecutor’s office turned a lot to international mechanisms and referred to international documents, but quite inconsistently. Therefore, we can state a hybrid application of international law,” Dmytro Koval, Candidate of Science, stated.
The experts also analysed the coverage of Vitaliy Markiv’s case in the Italian media. “There are few publications that have covered Markiv’s case. They did not base on the presumption of innocence. There are clichés and narratives in the spirit of Italian publications about Ukraine. Regrettably, even respected experts in their fields have clichés, stereotypes, and set patterns in their works,” Kateryna Zarembo, an associate analyst at the New Europe Center, said.
History of detention
To recap, the jury of the city of Pavia, where Andrea Rocchelli comes from, sentenced Markiv to 24 years in prison (the prosecutors asked for 17 years), finding him guilty of an Italian journalist’s murder. According to prosecutors, Markiv from Mount Karachun passed information about the whereabouts of journalists to the command. After that, a shelling took place, during which Rocchelli died.
At the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has released new evidence of National Guard Vitaliy Markiv’s non-involvement. In particular, according to the National Police deputy head, the NPU’s Main Investigation Department head, Maxim Tsutskiridze, the experts removed the fragments of a mine, fired from a mortar, from the correspondent’s body. “That is a mine, not a bullet, caused the Italian citizen death,” he said.
According to Tsutskiridze, National Police investigators conducted 11 examinations, seven investigative experiments, interrogated 70 witnesses to investigate the chronology of the artillery shelling, and established the circumstances of the deaths of Italian journalist Rocchelli and Mironov of Russia .