Luca Attanasio and the carabiniere, killed for 50 thousand dollars. The investigation into the kidnapping and the four fatal blows

Of Giovanni Bianconi

The Italian investigation into the killing of the ambassador and the carabiniere Iacovacci: the bandits wanted 50,000 dollars

Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci, killed a year ago together with the driver Mustaf Milambo in Goma, on the eastern border of the Congo, they died for $ 50,000. The bandits who attacked the convoy on the morning of February 22, 2021 they demanded that amount, which the passengers did not have. At that point, the ambush of the two cars with three white men on board turned into in a kidnapping for the purpose of extortion. The hostages were used to obtain a ransombut the action failed with the shooting in which the Italian diplomat and the carabiniere in charge of his security were killed.

The details of the ambush are revealed by the acts of the investigation of the Public Prosecutor of Rome against Rocco Leone, Deputy Director of WFPthe UN Food Program, and its local collaborator Mansour Rwagaza, accused of manslaughter for failing to comply with safety protocols in preparing for the trip.

Rules violated

from their account and from that of other witnesses that the deputy prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco and the investigators of the special operative group of the Arma have reconstructed the facts of the mission and the deadly ambush. Until the conclusion contained in the information of the Ros: It is believed that the hasty and informal organization made sure that the procedures normally implemented in this kind of missions were not activated, because the reduced times would not have allowed it. Everything was agreed through a personalistic management in violation of the rules governing safety within UN organizations.
The report of the United Nations Security Department, acquired by the Prosecutor’s Office, also pointed out non-compliance with various provisionsincluding the lack of information to the UN mission and its security unit, as well as the names indicated in the list of authorizations changed at the last moment, without notifying anyone.

No armored cars

February 22 was the last day of an expedition that began on the 18th, on the border with Rwanda and Burundi, to visit WFP programs in Congo. The evening before Iacovacci spoke to the other carabiniere attached to the embassy, Luigi Arilli, remained in Kinshasa: It was us who decided, by mutual agreement, that he would go Iacovacci, why it would soon be transferred and why more interested of me to travel and meet the localsbeing also passionate about local crafts… About the trip the next day he told me that they would go to a not too quiet area, but he was not worried.
In the previous days Arilli had witnessed a phone call between Iacovacci and Rwagaza: Mansour guaranteed the presence of armored cars, but provided by other organizations because WFP had none. In reality, the two cars that left shortly after 9 from Kivu Lodge in Goma were not armored because, as reported by Fidele Nzabandora, head of the Pam sector, for all visits have never been used… The bulletproof vests were in the trunk of the trunk, if we needed them just turn around and pick them up. During the attack we didn’t have time to put them on.

Followed by the bikes

Mansour Rwagaza – who had received the permit for the trip but without indicating in the documents the presence of the ambassador and the escort carabiniere, because security clearence for guests – he was in the first car, driven by Milambo, together with Nzabandora; in the second there were Attanasio, Iacovacci, Leone and the driver. Nobody worried about the bikes that followed the crews who, after about half an hour, overtook them. Shortly after, six people armed with Kalashnikovs and machetes emerged from the forest, firing into the air and blocking the convoy. They ordered us to hand over the money – says Rwagaza -. They wanted $ 50,000 or else they would have taken us away to the forest and then they would ask for a ransom … I told Rocco they had to cooperate to prevent us from being shot.

The firefight

Rocco Leone: I gave everything I had, $ 300-400 and my cell phone. Also the ambassador he started taking off the things he was wearing, surely the wallet and perhaps the watch. Then the attackers began to push the hostages towards the woods: I told Iacovacci to stay calm and not take the gunmaybe the ambassador told him too. At the beginning of the walk there were other shots, which killed Milambo and wounded Rwagaza in the hand. Rocco Leone, the last in line, fallen to the ground, the kidnappers left him there and managed to go back: I saw a man in military uniform, I asked him to call for help but he did not do it because he had no credit on his mobile phone.
After a couple of kilometers, the bandits and hostages were surprised by the fire from soldiers and park rangers, arrived from the northeast. Mansour Rwagaza: The firefight lasted at least five minutes, then there was a minute of silence and the worst happened. The carabiniere got up and tried to lift the ambassador from his beltat that point he was shot in the arm and left side … I clearly saw that the attackers were shooting at the bodyguard and the ambassador, they fired four shots at them … I felt a strong exhalation, I think it was the fumes of the carabiniere … Instead, I heard the ambassador telling me he was injuredhe told me that he could no longer feel his feet… He asked me to come closer, he said he was choking.

The rush to the hospital

The bandits managed to escape, the military loaded Attanasio and the others on the off-road vehicles and returned to the ambush site, where they met Leone: I saw Mansour sitting on a military truck holding the ambassador in his arms. I got into the van, which started at full speed. Arriving at the UN base, equipped with a small hospital, Attanasio was taken to the operating room: We waited ten minutes or a quarter of an hour until the responsible doctor told us that there was no hope for the ambassador.
A year later, the Congolese authorities arrested seven alleged kidnappers, who allegedly confessed, substantially confirming the version of the surviving victims of the ambush. Facilitated, according to the accusation of the Italian investigators, by failure to comply with the procedures for organizing the mission. That Attanasio and Iacovacci were living with enthusiasm, as confirmed by the last conversation of the carabiniere with his colleague Arilli: He told me it was content, and that thanks to the ambassador he had been given a handcrafted mask.

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