Public Prosecutor v. Ashby. Judgment No. 161/98.
Court of Trento, Italy, July 13, 1998.
On February 3, 1998, a U.S. Marine EA-6B aircraft, redeployed at Aviano air base as part of Operation Deliberate Guard in support of the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia, was on a low-level training mission over northern Italy when it severed the wires of the cable car at the Cermis ski resort near Cavalese, causing the deaths of twenty people. Because the exercise of criminal action is mandatory under Article 112 of the Italian Constitution, the public prosecutor decided that he had to institute preliminary investigations immediately, with a view to determining whether to prosecute. On July 13, 1998, an Italian judge, in a preliminary hearing, rejected the prosecutor's request that seven U.S. servicemen stand trial for the cable-car accident. The judge found that, under Article VII, paragraph 3(a) (ii) of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA), the United States, as the sending state, had the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over the case and that jurisdiction had not been waived. Accordingly, the judge dismissed the case.