Italian Court Sentences Ukrainian Vitaliy Markiv to 24 Years
Journalists and activists believe that the Italian court's ruling against Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv is unfair. On July 12th he was sentenced to 24 years in prison for allegedly directing a mortar fire that killed an Italian journalist and his interpreter in Donbas
With this slogan, a Ukrainian in Italy launched an online flashmob, in support of the recently jailed Ukrainian National Guard soldier.
Markiv was sentenced to 24 years behind bars. He was accused of involvement in the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and his interpreter Andrei Mironov in Donbas in 2014.
Activists believe that the charges are unjustified and that the evidence is dubious
“The whole investigation and Markiv’s arrest started because of an article, which was published in the newspaper called “Corriere della Sera.” It was written by Italian journalist Ilaria Morani. In the article, she quoted a man whom she called a captain of Ukrainian troops. His last name wasn’t mentioned. He allegedly told her that the “Zeus Ceramica” factory in Sloviansk shouldn’t be approached, and when soldiers noticed movement, they start firing at once,” head of the international department at the Hromadske TV Channel, Olha Tokariuk said.
That article became the main piece of evidence used for the charges.
“Out of 150 soldiers who were on the height of Karachun at the time, why was Markiv the one who was detained? Because he spoke with Italian journalists, because this, to put it mildly, inaccurate, article came out. In it, Markiv was assigned words which he didn’t say,” Tokariuk said.
At the trial, Morani, said that Markiv spoke not to her, but to another journalist. And she witnessed the conversation
“There really was a conversation, but between Vitaliy Markiv and another Italian journalist Marcello Fauci, whom he met back at Euromaidan. But the main thing is what they talked about. Fauci called Markiv and told him about the death of the Italian reporter. He said he wanted to go to the scene and do a report. Markiv replied that there’s a war there, and it’s very dangerous, so he shouldn’t go. In the article, this conversation was twisted around,” Oles Horodetskyi, the head of the Christian Union of Ukrainians in Italy said.
Rocchelli and Mironov were killed near the city of Slovyansk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, during a firefight. He and French reporter William Roguelon, who survived, were filming a report. In 2014, Slovyansk was controlled by the Russian-led forces. Ukrainian troops were on Karachun hill – two kilometers away from the place where Rocchelli and Mironov were killed. William Roguelon, the only eyewitness, claimed that the fire came from the Ukrainian side.
“He simply said ‘I think they fired from the Ukrainian side.’ He didn’t say he saw this, There’s no evidence that the shooting came from the Ukrainian side, not to mention how Markiv was involved,” Horodetskyi said.
The motivation for the court’s ruling is to be published within three months. Then, Vitaliy Markiv’s lawyers will file an appeal against the decision. The hearing at the court of appeal will be held in Milan at the beginning of next year.