Friday, April 06, 2007

The Strange Case of Mario Lozano

A US soldier needs our help. Specialist Mario Lozano has been unfairly indicted for murder in Italy. For doing his duty, following orders and protecting his fellow soldiers. The circumstances of his case are tragic.

In Baghdad Iraq, on March 4th 2005, Specialist Lozano and his squad were doing their duty, obeying the lawful orders of their leaders. They were conducting a checkpoint, blocking an on ramp, in order to close Route Irish. Route Irish was the most dangerous road in Iraq. The US ambassador, John Negroponte was traveling that evening, requiring Route Irish to be shut down, to all but military traffic.

Spc Lozano was in the turret of a Humvee, behind his M240B machine gun. After over an hour in position, and having turned back over a dozen vehicles without incident, a vehicle came barreling towards their Humvee at 40 MPH or more. Despite signals and warning shots the vehicle proceeded. US Soldiers estimated it was traveling at about 50 miles per hour. The driver estimated his own speed as between 40 and 50 MPH.

As the vehicle crossed a point 140 meters away, Specialist Lozano shined a high intensity spotlight on it. Another soldier used a green laser on the windshield to warn the vehicle off. Here’s how the official US Army report describes what happened next.

The car crossed the Alert Line still heading towards the Soldiers’ position without slowing down. Specialist Lozano continued to shine the spotlight, and shouted at the vehicle to stop, a fruitless effort, but an instantaneous reaction based on his training.

Without slowing down, the car continued toward the Warning Line with the spotlight and laser still on it. The car continued to approach at a high rate of speed, coming closer to the Soldiers than any other vehicle that evening. When the car got to the Warning Line,(about 100 meters) Specialist Lozano, while still holding the spotlight in his left hand, used his right hand to quickly fire a two to four round burst into a grassy area to the on-coming vehicle’s right (the pre-set aiming point) as a warning shot. The vehicle maintained its speed as it went beyond the Warning Line. Staff Sergeant B., a former New York City Police Officer trained in vehicle speed estimation, estimated the car was traveling at 50. Specialist Lozano dropped the spotlight and immediately traversed his weapon from his left to his right, without having to move the turret, to orient on the front of the car. With both hands on the weapon, he fired another burst, walking the rounds from the ground on the passenger’s side of the vehicle and towards the car’s engine block in an attempt to disable it. The rounds hit the right and front sides of the vehicle, deflated the left front tire, and blew out the side windows.

Specialist Lozano has told me that the vehicle stopped only ten meters or so away from his Humvee. He crouched down behind his weapon expecting an explosion from what he believed was a car bomb. He thought he and his battle buddies were about to die.

The vehicle was not a car bomb. It contained Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena, just released by her Iraqi captors and Italian Intelligence officers Nicola Calipari and Andrea Carpani. . Calipari who had negotiated Sgrena’s release was struck by one of Lozano’s rounds and died on the scene. Sgrena was wounded and and was taken to the US Army hospital in the nearby Green Zone. Carpani who was driving admitted to an estimated speed of 40-50 MPH. Despite a US Army investigation that concluded Mario Lozano had committed no crime Italian authorities have pursued murder charges. They have indicted him, and a trial date is scheduled for April 17, 2007. Less than two weeks.

The Italians have no legal jurisdiction. Spc Lozano was acting under the Geneva conventions regarding occupying forces, under the Rules of Engagement (ROE) governing use of force by all US troops in Iraq. He was following the direct and lawful orders of his superiors.

Spc Lozano’s actions do not rise to the commonly accepted definition of murder, which requires an intent to kill, and precludes actions taken in self defense. Self defense requires that a reasonable person feels his life is threatened. Finally murder precludes actions taken by soldiers following Lawful Orders of their superiors. The Nuremberg defense failed at Nuremberg because the orders to murder innocent civilians were clearly unlawful. Defending against a potential suicide bomber is clearly a Lawful Order. The evidence clearly supports Lozano, and his fellow soldier's account of the incident.

Today Mario Lozano is under indictment in Italy, an allied nation. The US Army’s response has been to assign Mr. Lozano a team of lawyers from the National Guard JAG Corps who are assigned part time to his case. They have hired a lawyer in Italy whose only plan so far is to seek a postponement. April 17 is less than two weeks away and there is no coherent defense plan. At one point two weeks ago The Army, DOD and Sate Department were encouraging Mr. Lozano to allow the Italians to prosecute him unchallenged. Their official stance is that as long as the trial is in absentia, Mario need not worry about the consequences. The Army and the JAG are continuing to discourage Mario from seeking a dedicated civilian attorney.

Several prestigious civilian attorneys have recently met and conferred with Spc Lozano. The process of building a legal defense team of civilian and military lawyers is underway. A team that can successfully exonerate Spc Lozano in Italian Court, based on evidence, and jurisdiction, is expected to be up and running by next week. But Spc Lozano is a soldier, not a man of means. The civilian defense costs even with pro bono services by some attorneys will be expensive. The Specialist Lozano Defense Fund has begun collecting for his defense. Any help for this American Soldier in trouble would be appreciated.




Thanks To: Mudville

BlackFive

Michelle Malkin

Betsy Newmark

Gateway Pundit

Right Wing News

Causes of Interest

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I am an Italian living outside my country now.
I really would take position defending completely the operate of the specialist Lozano. I know well the way to actuate of the Italian Police, and I am sure they didn´t want to stop. And I perfectly believe to Lozano. And, for what concern the stupid and arrogant Giuliana Sgrena, want to say that the weight of this dead is on HER SHOULDERS, because she should stand to write her articles in Italy or everywhere she wants but outside war zone. She put the whole Italy in agitation for a month for cause of her behaviour, and now that a man died for her fault wants to throw the "boiled potato" to Lozano. I ending sayng that I have been a soldier. And if I was on the Humvee turret I would not stop to shot until my last bullet against the car. Well done, Lozano. You are innocent!!!

Tue Apr 10, 09:13:00 PM 2007  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

GRATZIE!

Tue Apr 10, 09:22:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Erika said...

What happened to Mario Lozano in this case? Thanks!

Fri Jul 20, 11:20:00 AM 2007  

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