Italian ambassador and a carabiniere killed in Congo, a bulletproof vest could have saved their lives
The Italian ambassador to Congo Luca Attanasio and the carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci were killed in a firefight: therefore, it was not an execution. The first results of the autopsy ordered on the corpses by the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office and performed at the Gemelli Hospital revealed. Attanasio and Iacovacci were hit by two bullets each, in the firefight between their attackers and the Congolese rangers, who intervened to rescue the Virunga forest.
The first autopsy results therefore support the hypothesis of an attempted kidnapping that ended badly – and not of an attack aimed at killing as the Congolese president affirmed – interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the rangers. But they still don’t clarify from which weapons the shots came. It is not yet clear whether the two Italians were victims of friendly fire or not. According to what emerges from the autopsy, Ambassador Luca Attanasio was hit by two shots to the abdomen. The shots pierced the body from left to right, both the entry and exit holes were identified.
The Italian diplomat died an hour later in the hospital of the UN MONUSCO mission in Goma. From the moment the diplomatic was shot to that he arrived at the hospital in Goma, where he died, 50 minutes have passed. A very long and crucial time in which perhaps he could have been saved. “These are the words of Rocco Leone, director of the UN program of the World Food Program, who was a few meters from the convoy attacked in Congo, in which Ambassador Luca Attanasio and the carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci lost their lives”.
Leone survived because, as reported by the Italian “La Repubblica”, he was left behind. When the Kalashnikovs started shooting, the carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci tried to react. Perhaps he even tried to shield Ambassador Luca Attanasio, in an extreme and vain gesture of protection. On the two corpses, there are the marks of five bullets. As for the carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci, who instead died instantly, was hit in the flank area and, then, at the base of the neck where a bullet from an AK47 Kalashnikov was identified. The body of the carabiniere has multiple fractures on the left forearm. This suggests that the bullet that stopped in the neck hit the fractured limb first.
In any case, ballistic examinations will clarify whether the bodies were hit from near or far. What appears certain is that the two were shot during the shooting immediately following the kidnapping. According to the government of Kinshasa – which accuses the Hutus of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) of attempted kidnapping for extortion purposes- the six assailants were armed with “five Kalashnikovs and a machete”. But the same automatic rifles would also be supplied to the guards of the national park where the ambush took place. For this reason, the Italian Special Scientific Forces “Ros”, in Goma since Wednesday, intended to check the rangers’ weapons and compare them to the bullet found in Iacovacci’s body and to those found on the convoy’s cars.
The first reconstructions raised the polemic in Italy on security measures for diplomats abroad. The Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, declared in Parliament that he had asked the United Nations to open an investigation into the death of the two compatriots in Congo. Attanasio and Iacovacci were in fact on a UN mission, in particular, the World Food Program (WFP), and it was United Nations’ responsibility to organize adequate security. Many military experts wonder why the Italian ambassador and the carabiniere were traveling in an unarmoured car, and above all why they didn’t wear a bulletproof vest, which could have saved their lives. The investigation also denied the first statements of the Congolese president who immediately accused Rwanda separatist groups, hasty statements perhaps that could hide other secrets in a country already full of mysteries.
Ambassador Attanasio was one of the youngest Italian diplomats, attached to values and in love with Africa. The Ambassador leaves 3 small children and a wife with whom he had opened a mission for the protection of women and children in the African country. Carabiner Iacovacci was supposed to get married next June. Their bodies were greeted at the Rome Ciampino military airport by Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Minister Di Maio. Yesterday they received the state funeral and celebrated as heroes by the whole nation in shock that demands truth and justice.