Markiv not involved in death of Italian journalist, had another weapon in his hands - Avakov

Markiv not involved in death of Italian journalist, had another weapon in his hands - Avakov

Ukrainian National Guard serviceman Vitaliy Markiv could not be involved in the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli because he had another weapon in his hands, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said.

"Rocchelli died from mortar shrapnel, but Markiv had a machine gun in his hands, so it's impossible - the man had another weapon," Avakov said at a briefing on Monday, August 31.

He stressed that the Ukrainian side had put forward a great number of such arguments. He also expressed hope the Italian court would have an impartial attitude to this case.

In addition, Avakov said that Markiv was in fact deprived of his right to defense - Italian law enforcement officers never came to Ukraine, despite the fact that they were invited. "Any unbiased expert, if he climbs Mount Karachun, will agree that Markiv could not shoot - it is impossible," Avakov said.

"I want to emphasize that, unfortunately, Italian law enforcement officers never came to Ukraine and were not at the scene of the death of an Italian citizen. Thus, the investigation was not conducted in full, and Vitaliy Markiv was deprived of his unconditional right to an objective investigation and his right to defense," the minister said.

Deputy Chief of the National Police of Ukraine, Chief of the Main Investigation Department of the National Police of Ukraine Maksym Tsutskiridze also stressed that experts had removed from the body of the photojournalist fragments of a mine that was fired from a mortar. "A mine rather than a bullet" was the cause of death of the Italian photojournalist, he said.

Avakov called on the Italian government not to politicize the tragedy. He also called on the appellate court, which is to consider the appeal against Markiv's verdict, to consider the case impartially and objectively.

"I urge the Italian court to take note of the evidence collected by the Ukrainian investigation and take it into account when issuing a fair judgment," Avakov said.

Markiv was detained in Italy in the summer of 2017 on charges of alleged involvement in the murder of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near Sloviansk, Ukraine's Donetsk region, on May 24, 2014.

On July 12, 2019, a court in the Italian town of Pavia sentenced Markiv to 24 years in prison. Markiv's defense lawyers called the sentence "political" and declared their intention to file the appeal. The hearing of the appeal in the Markiv case was not appointed for a long time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Volodymyr Zelensky instructed the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Prosecutor General's Office to make every effort to bring Markiv back home.

On July 24, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that the consideration of the appeal against Markiv's sentence in Italy would begin in September.


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