The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has released new evidence that National Guard Vitaliy Markiv had not been involved in the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rockelli and his Russian translator Andriy Mironov near Slovyansk in May 2014.
During press conferences with the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the facts collected by specialists and the results of several investigative experiments were made public.
According to the Main Investigation Department head of the Internal Ministry of Ukraine Maksym Tsutskiridze, investigators interrogated 70 witnesses, 20 of whom were directly at the scene in 2014. In addition, seven investigative experiments, 11 forensic examinations and five additional site inspections were conducted. He also noted that, unfortunately, Italian law enforcement officers did not interrogate witnesses to the incident.
Ukrainian experts have established that there was no causal link between Markiv’s actions and Rockelli’s death, as well as the intention to do so.
Investigators found that Rockelli’s death came from a mortar fragment, but at that time on Mount Karachun, the Ukrainian military did not have such a weapon. Besides, Markiv had only small arms.
During the interrogation of the servicemen, Markiv’s exact position on Mount Karachun near the TV tower was established, as well as the fact that the distance between him and the place of Rockelli and Mironov death reached 1,760 meters. He could not aim at the photojournalist with his small arms. Furthermore, it was impossible to see the whereabouts of the victims from the Markiv’s location.
According to the testimony provided by French journalist William Rogulon, who was at the scene with Rockelli and made a video, they were shot at with machine.guns and then with mortars.
During the investigative experiment, experts determined the distance from which Markov and pro-Russian militants could shoot. In the French journalist’s video, one could hear closer the shots than where Markov was located.
Eyewitnesses point out that the shelling of the place where the journalists stayed started not from the Ukrainian military positions but from the pro-Russian militants’ placement, i.e. from a 140-150 meter distance. That was confirmed by the results of the investigative experiment.
One of the incident witnesses – a local inhabitant – clarified during the interrogation that the shooting was started by militants from the Zeus plant territory.
“Italian law enforcement officers have never come to Ukraine, even though they were invited once, twice and three times. Any uninvolved expert, if going to Mount Karachun, will look at the crime scene and see that it was impossible (a murder according to the prosecution – ed.),” – Arsen Avakov stressed during the press conference.
The Interior Ministry hopes that these interim results of the investigation into Markiv’s case will encourage Italian law enforcement to conduct additional investigative actions. A hearing on Vitaliy Markiv’s defence appeal will begin in a Milan trial jury on 29 September.
Meanwhile, the first part of the documentary film “The Wrong Place,” dedicated to the National Guard Markiv, was shown in the Italian Parliament.
The audience watched a 35-minute fragment of the tape. Its authors found out new facts and talked to witnesses who were not involved in the trial in Pavia.
The film provides detailed professional explanations by cartographers, ballistics experts and other experts, which deny the allegations of the prosecution that from Markiv’s position on Karachun it was possible to distinguish human figures at a distance of more than one and a half kilometres.
One noted that the final part of the film will be ready in late autumn.
The participants of the presentation expressed hope that the materials presented in the film would contribute to the impartial consideration of Markiv’s case in the second instance court.
To recap, a jury in the city of Pavia, from where Andrea Rockelli originated, sentenced Markiv to 24 years in prison (prosecutors asked for 17 years), finding him guilty of killing an Italian journalist.