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Victim’s mother calls for US soldier to be tried in Italy over fatal car crash

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The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Victim’s mother calls for US soldier to be tried in Italy over fatal car crash
A photo released by the Italian fire brigade shows the scene of the crash in Porcia, northern Italy. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco (Italian fire brigade)

The mother of a 15-year-old Italian boy killed after being hit by a car allegedly driven by a US servicewoman is demanding that the case be tried in Italy and not by a US military court.

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A US servicewoman was under house arrest after being accused of killing a teenager while driving drunk, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors in Pordenone, in Italy's far northeast, charged the 20-year-old female soldier stationed at the US Air Force's Aviano Air Base with vehicular manslaughter Tuesday, defence lawyer Aldo Massarut told AFP.

The woman, named by police as Julia Bravo, is alleged to have been driving a car that hit a 15-year-old boy at around 2.30am on Sunday in the northern Italian town of Porcia, around nine miles from the base.

The victim, Giovanni Zanier, had been standing in a bike lane talking to friends when he was hit by the soldier's car, according to witnesses. He died on the way to hospital.

Authorities measured the soldier's alcohol level as 2.09 grams per litre, said Massarut, more than three times the legal limit.

The mother of the teenager told the Corriere della Sera newspaper she was concerned the driver would be allowed to leave the country, and said she wanted the soldier tried in Italy.

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"I don't trust the American justice system," said Scandella.

"We all know that the soldiers on the Aviano base in this area do what they like, that they don't respect the rules...," she said.

“We want her to be tried in Italy and that she be given the sentence she deserves,” she said.

Zanier’s death is being investigated by Italian police, but because a US service member is involved the case could be turned over to military authorities in the United States.

Public prosecutor Raffaele Tito said on Monday that in accordance with “international treaties with regard to the jurisdiction applying to Nato forces stationed in Europe” the Italian justice ministry may decide that the case should be heard in the US.

The driver called for medical assistance immediately after the crash, media reports said.

Corriere della Sera said prosecutors had testimony from a witness who claimed to have seen the soldier leaving a nightclub, and who subsequently saw her driving erratically on the road.

The commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, which is stationed at Aviano, issued a brief statement of condolences to the victim's family on Tuesday.

"Our wing is working in close collaboration with the Italian base command team and Italian law enforcement agencies, specifically the Carabinieri," said Brigadier General Tad Clark in the statement.

The US Embassy did not respond to requests for information.

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