On January 21 the Court of Justice of Milan released the full text of the ruling inherent to the verdict of acquittal of Vitaly Markiv who was released on November 3, 2020. The document is a confirmation that the prosecutor of Pavia and the first-instance court made no mistakes in 2019 when identifying Ukraine, its armed forces and volunteer units acting against village of Slavyansk as the only culprits responsible for the death of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrey Mironov. The Appeal Court ruled that “the attack on Rocchelli, Mironov and Roguellon as the appealed ruling states had taken place without any provocation from either the victims or the militants’ side”(p. 64).
Vitaly Markiv, who is both Ukrainian and Italian citizen, was the deputy commander of one of volunteer units in the National Guard of Ukraine as of May 2014. In summer 2017 he was arrested on arrival to Italy as a suspect of participation to the dual killing of Andrea Rocchelli, an Italian photographer, and Andrey Mironov, Russian dissident and human rights activist, alongside inflicting wounds on William Roguellon, a French photographer, and Yevheni Koshman, the local driver. Markiv was originally sentenced by the court of Pavia in July 2019 to 24 years of prison for his role in the murder.
The full text of the ruling from November 3, 2020 stipulates on factors which decided the final conclusions of the Appeal Court in the case into the murder of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrey Mironov in Slavyansk on May 24, 2014.
The document is a confirmation that the prosecutor of Pavia and the first-instance court made no mistakes in identifying Ukraine, its armed forces and volunteer units acting against village of Slavyansk as the only culprits responsible for the death of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrey Mironov.
The first-degree guilty verdict issued by the court of Pavia is fully confirmed by the Appeal. The acquittal of Markiv happened to be possible only due to a formal flaw which annihilated a crucial court hearing and the evidences it brought up when Ukrainian officers were interrogated in Pavia.
It happened on May 17, 2019. Five Ukrainian officers were taken to testify in court. It was one of the most crucial court hearings as they detailed on the positions of the Ukrainian army units on the Karachun Hill.
The Appeal Court ruled that the testimonies provided by Bohdan Matkivskyi (Commander of the second Platoon, direct superior commander to Matkivskyi), by Andrej Antonyshack (coordinator of the first Reserve Battalion, superordinate to Matkivskyi and to the commander of the second Company, Roman Gut, from which Markiv was subdued), by Oleksadr Venduk (Commander of the first platoon, who declared that, as there were two commanders for three platoons, they shared and coordinated their decisions with Matkivskyi and that Markiv responded to them both), Balan Mykola (Commander of the National Guard as of May 7, 2014), as well as Kuzyk Vasyl (National Guard soldier who shared the position with Markiv), Levko Ruslan (who declared to have been in the same position as Markiv, albeit with different shifts), by Sarahman Igor (soldier, who stated that he had been in a position close to that of Markiv, if not the same), of Rikbtik Konstanty (who declared that he shared with Markiv the operational shifts in the month of May were ruled to be inadmissible.
The reason for that decision is that all of them ”in the light of the indictment could have been taken as complicit of the participation in the crime. Therefore, they should have been examined in this process only ex art. 21O of the code of criminal procedure with the presence of a lawyer and with warnings that they testimonies could be used against them in further stages and they had the right to keep silence”.
The Appeal Court ruled that those military with the UAF should have been questioned as SUSPECTS, not WITNESSES. Therefore, they all had to be provided with attorneys. As it was not the case, their testimonies, including on the role of Markiv on the day when journalists were killed, were dismissed.
1. The Appeal Court wholly reconfirms the dynamics and sequence of events and the side responsible for the double murder as reconstructed by the state prosecution in Pavia (p. 63);
2. The testimony delivered by French photographer William Roguellon is absolutely reliable and crucial to understand how things went, as well as those delivered by the other journalists interrogated in court during the 1st grade trial (pp. 40, 57, 59);
3. The requests brought up by the defence (further ballistic tests and admission of the movie The Wrong Place) were rejected because deemed not relevant to the current matter (p. 29, 30).
4. A formal flaw was detected in one of the 1st grade court hearings: in Matkywsky and Antonishak depositions of Feb. 8 and in the ‘soldiers’ deposition who came to Pavia on May 17, 2019 to testify in favour of Mr. Markiv.
If those Ukrainian military had been cited the ritual formulas of the ‘right to silence’ (right not to remain silent when asked) and “all statements can be used against their speaker in upcoming trials” by the Court, there would be sufficient evidence of Markiv following the order he received. Nevertheless, the content of those court testimonies remains valid, according to the Appeal. Markiv’s comrades-in-arms actually strengthened position developed by the state prosecution concerning Markiv’s role and his position on the Karachun Hill.
5. Markiv was acquitted for lack of evidence because the prosecutor did not obtain any picture or record directly catching Markiv in action on May 24, 2014 in that precise place at the precise period of time when journalists were killed. However, the Appeal Court presided by Giovanna Ichino ruled that it is Ukraine which bears sole responsibility for the deaths of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrey Mironov.
The Appeal Court rules that ”the attack on Rocchelli, Mironov and Roguellon as the appealed ruling states had taken place without any provocation from either the victims or the militants’ side”(p. 64).
Sentenza completa Appello 21 gennaio 2021 31-20_1-20