"A murder," "a killer," "the one who gave orders to shoot" - the Italian press hastened to condemn the Ukrainian military servicemen Vitali Markiv without trial and investigation. Recall, Vitaly has been arrested in Italy on charges of involvement in the murder of a photographer, Andrea Rocchelli.

The trial over Markiv has not yet begun, but the information war against the Ukrainian veteran is already in full swing. What role does journalists play in this case, why the Italian media have applied a "presumption of guilt" against Markiv, and can we expect for a clear trial under such pressing?

"He's the one, who killed a photographer Rocchelli in Ukraine," one of the largest Italy's newspapers, La Stampa reports about Markiv's arrest.

Literally the same title has an article in the Il Giornale, a newspaper belonging to the media empire of Silvio Berlusconi. The author calls Markiv an "anti-Putin militant."

"The killer of an Italian photojournalist was arrested at the airport," writes the main newspaper of Bologna Il Resto del Carlino.

"The murder by order of Markiv," a journalist says in a plot on Italy's largest TV channel Rai1, basing his accusation by a quotation that is out of context. He showed a part of interwiev with Roman, where the Ukrainian veteran allegedly say that he was shooting civilians (in fact, he spoke about the actions of Pro-Yanuckovich's security forces, who had been shooting at the protesters during  the Maidan events in Kyiv).

Long before the trial began, most of the Italian media had called Vitaly Markiv guilty of the death of Andrea Rocchelli, and this despite the fact that the evidence of his involvement in the photographer's death is at least doubtful.

Vitaliy Markiv, a citizen of Ukraine and Italy, was arrested on July 1 at the airport in Bologna. He is accused of involvement in the murder of an Italian photographer, Andrea Rocchelli, in 2014 on the Donbass. Together with the translator, Russian dissident Andrei Mironov, he died as a result of a mortar shelling in the outskirts of Sloviansk town.

The chief witness in the case is the French journalist William Rohlon, who survived the assault. According to him, the journalists were shooted by Ukrainian soldiers, who were stationing on the Karachun mountain at that time. The charges against Markiv are based on the testimonies of two Italian journalists.

On May 24, 2014, an article entitled "Ukraine, the story of a captain: That's how Rocchelli died" was published in the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper.

In the article, the journalist quotes an unnamed Ukrainian soldier who says: "Usually we do not shoot in the direction of the city and civilians, but we charge heavy artillery when see any movement. This happened with the car of two journalists and their translator. We shoot from here for a distance of one and a half kilometers.It appears from the materials of the Italian investigators that these words belonged to Vitaliy Markov, and the selected fragment seemed to have become grounds for his detention and indictment of intentional murder. 

Ilarie Morani, a freelance journalist, has refused to answer Ukrainian journalists' question if she gave evidence against Markiv. Marcello Fauci, another reporter whose name is mentioned in the investigation materials as the one who pointed to the Markiv, did not answer our request for a comment at all. According to reporters, acquaintances with Fauci and Morani, both they hasn't disclosed their source of information to the investigation. Investigators seem to got onto Markiv on the basis of their journalistic materials. 

The evidence base of the Italian investigation against Vitaliy Markiv looks rather weak. It looks like he was arrested on several motives. First, the above mentioned article and the quote from there. Secondly, in May 2014, when Rocchelli died, Markov was on the Mount Karachun and could provide the investigators with actual information on the actions of the Ukrainian military. Thirdly, he is a citizen of Italy and speaks Italian well - and therefore, Markiv could be an easy prey to the Italian investigators, who being under the jornalists' pressure, have been trying to demonstrate some progress in the case.

"With pain and bewilderment we met this news - Oles Gorodetsky, the public chairman of one of the Ukrainian communities in Italy, commented Markiv's arrest to Ukrainian journalists - but most of all we were outraged by the way how the Italian journalists have represented this news - when they were accusing him (Mark Iv, ed.) without a trial. They even came to the use of fakes in their shamefull reports, they told things he had never said, distorted his interviews."

Ukrainian community in Italy, which has about 250 thousand people, has collected signatures in an appeal to the Italian media asking them to be weighed and adhere to journalistic ethics. However, it seems, that local media have ignored the position of Ukrainians, who, like other Italian citizens, finance the state media from their own taxes.

"Leading editions either replied that they were not interested in such material for publication, or just ignored us, - Gorodetsky admits - We continue to write, asking journalists to publish our party's position on the matter. There must be oppinions wfom both sides, not the defamation of a person who is now absolutely innocent."

Quite interesting position on the case could be provided to Italian media by Markiv's lawyer, Raffaele della Valle, one of Italy's leading experts. He willingly agreed to comment the curreen situation to the Hromadske. "They are jackals, not journalists," said Della Valle about some representatives of the Italian media. Last week the lawyer met for the first time with a Ukrainian, Markov assured him of not being involved in the death of Rocchelli

"Undoubtedly, the reaction of the media goes beyond any limits. We're dealing with completely uncertain situation in the area of conducting military operations, but the media are already shouting about the culprit. You can not judge a person on a TV, for that there are competent authorities." the lawyer added. 

Mr. Della Valle believes that the excessive reaction of the media will not affect the trial. Both he and Roman are certain in the independence and justice of Italian justice. 

"Italian media wrote about the arrest of Markiv in the same vein, which has described the events of recent years in Ukraine," - explains Mauro Voerzio, the editor of the Italian branch of the Stop Fake media resource. He and his colleagues have been engaged in monitoring of manipulation and distortion of information related to Ukraine by the Italian press.

"Our media quickly took Russia's side. Since the time of the Maidan, many have said that there were Nazis. The general tone was that Ukrainians are bad, murderers, while Russians are good. And Vitaliy Markiv is an ideal character to tell a story how bad Ukrainians are." - mr. Voerzio explains. 

So what do Italian journalists have been covering Ukrainian events in this way? "There are many sorts of journalists. Someone are good, others just badly understand the things they are writing about, thereare also politically engaged ones, or those, who cling to one single version. Eventually, all these journalists are grasping the main idea that circulates in society: "it is better to be on Putin's side than against Putin" and here we have the result. There are no theories of conspiracy."

The activist believes that the noble intentions of the parents of Andrea Rocchelli, who above all seek to find the truth about the circumstances of their son's death, were used by people whose purpose is propaganda. Vorozzi is convinced that Vitaliy Markiv will ultimately be justified by the Italian court. But even then, an image of monster, created by the press, will remain in a collective mind.

"The propaganda used Rocchelli and the arrest a Ukrainian veteran in order to tarnish the reputation of Ukraine. The court's final decision has no importance now, since the result has already been achieved."

However, this battle of the information warfare hasn't yet been lost. If being found innocent, Vitaly Markov can sue against the newspapers for the insult of his honor and dignity. In parallel, Ukraine could direct the resources of Italian justice and media discourse quite differently, announcing in the international search of Italian citizens who are participating the conflict in Donbass on the side of the terrorist groups side.

source Hromadske