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Back Sei qui: Home English news The Alpi-Hrovatin Case, "an innocent man is in jail"

English news

The Alpi-Hrovatin Case, "an innocent man is in jail"

The Alpi-Hrovatin Case,
"an innocent man is in jail"


By Aaron Pettinari - February 17th 2015
Key witness clears man convicted of having murdered two journalists
“Omar Hashi Hassan did not murder Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin. I did not see who fired the shots, I was not there”. These words belong to Somali militiaman Ahmed Ali Rage, who appeared in an interview during the television show "Chi l’ ha visto?" as "Jelle" (nickname). Jelle is no ordinary man. He is the main witness who released important statements to crown prosecutor Franco Ionta of the District Attorney’s office in Rome. Prosecutor Ionta investigated the assassination of journalist Ilaria Alpi, killed along with her cameraman on May 20th 1994 in Mogadishu. In 2002 the investigation led to the conviction of Omar Hashi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. (the sentence was later reduced to 26 years).

After more than twenty years, this turn of events could very well bring investigators to re-open the case.

“Hashi is innocent - is part of the statement which can be read in a note written by the editorial staff of the television show that airs on Rai Tre - Jelle told of how the Italians were in a hurry to close the case. He said they promised him money in exchange for his testimony during the trial: he was expected to accuse a Somali“ Who induced Jelle to tell such a story? And why did he disappear for so many years after having given sworn testimony in front of public prosecutors? Added proof that shows how the Alpi-Hrovatin case was thrown off track.

Santo Della Volpe, president of the Federation of the Press, correspondent for Tg3, founder of the association "Articolo 21" and head editor of "Libera Informazione" (organizers of the Ilaria Alpi award), asks himself the same questions. "Jelle struck us immediately as peculiar character - remembers Della Volpe reached by ANTIMAFIADuemila - His deposition was strange because he released a sworn statement and then failed to appear in court to confirm what he had told public prosecutors (during questioning Jelle also supported the” accidental “version of the story: a shooting between the two journalists’ driver and a group of seven people after a robbery attempt, ndr). He literally vanished. All that remained was his statement, that led to Hassan’s conviction. All of us, as well as the family, believed that Hassan had nothing to do with the murder. We immediately began to look for the "key witness". I also began my own research, through people I knew in the Somali community. My colleagues Andrea Palladino and Luciano Scalettari managed to trace him down but never interviewed him. At the time we found out that 'Jelle' was in England. Both Tg3 and "Chi l’ha visto" followed the story in the beginning. Afterwards, I moved on to other things but I am very happy that Sciarelli was able to find him and get him to tell certain details. I am happy for Ilaria’s mother, Luciana. More than twenty years have passed. Perhaps she can once again hope to see justice and truth prevail”. “This interview - continues Della Volpe - could give public prosecutors the opportunity to re-open investigations and move forth to a new trial. After all if Ahmed  Ali Rage can be found by a journalist, he can also be tracked down to testify in a new trial and furnish details about unresolved elements of the trial. It is only right to be able to compare these recent statements with the old ones contained in judicial documents which have now been disclosed, in order to get to  the truth and understand what really happened back then. It is an act of justice toward all our colleagues and toward all those journalists whom are devoted to their work”.

Family believes investigation was thrown off track
The Alpi family lawyer, Domenico D’Aamati stated: “The Public Prosecutor’s Office must acquire the tape recording and question Jelle. We have always claimed that the original investigation was thrown off track. Now our point of view has backing”. In an interview by "La Repubblica" Luciana Alpi also asks that investigations resume: "I dare them not to find him now. He’s been known to be there for years (referring to Jelle, ndr). Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone promised he would shed light on Ilaria and Miran’s case. I am sure they will continue with the inquiry now that new evidence is available. My husband and I don’t want to die without knowing who killed our daughter". And moreover: "We demand the truth, we need to know the names of the murderers who killed our daughter. At this point we also want to know whom is responsible for throwing the investigation off track. We waited patiently, we suffered and cried. Now there is proof. The inquiry on Ilaria and Miran’s murder was thrown off track”.

A clear request made by a woman who has suffered for years. Despite the pain she still finds the strength to make yet another appeal: "Omar Hashi Hassan must be released from jail as soon as possible. My husband and I said he was innocent the whole time”. The missing  pieces of yet another “Italian mystery” are still many. Not even old judicial documents pertaining to the case have been able to clarify what really happened.

However, one thing is sure. Only two months following Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin’s killings, Italian Secret Services identified the cause of their execution: our tg3 reporters were following a lead on weapon trafficking. A note written by secret services and delivered to Sismi stated that “According to information received informally, during a press report which took place in Bosaco, a few days before their death, the two Italian citizens in question apparently gathered details with regard to a load of illegal arms being smuggled by a ship called Somalfish” for the Somali faction Salvation Democratic Front. The double homicide may have been ordered by the traders in order to avoid the spreading of news relevant to such criminal activities taking place in the Horn of Africa”. A trace that was completely ignored. Why?

It’s up to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to unravel  the dilemma when the inquiry once again sees the light.

Traduzione a cura di Christina Pacella

Caso Alpi-Hrovatin, “in carcere c'è un innocente”
Il teste chiave scagiona l'unico condannato per l'omicidio dei due giornalisti

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