European Federation of Journalists

Ukrainian soldier sentenced to 24 years in prison for the murder of Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli in Donbas


An Italian court sentenced on Friday 12 July Vitaly Markiv, a Ukrainian former national guard commander, to 24 years in prison for the murder of photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his translator Andrei Mironov, in the early days of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes the court’s decision, putting an end to five years of impunity.

Andrei Mironov (left) & Andrea Rocchelli (right)

While on assignment, the pair were hit on 24 May 2014 by shrapnel from mortar shells during a firefight near the flashpoint of Slavyansk, in the rebel-held east. French photographer William Roquelon, who was travelling with the two, was also seriously wounded. These three experienced reporters had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack.

Rocchelli, 30, was the founder of the Cesura photo agency and a contributor to leading media organisations such as the American magazine Newsweek and the French daily Le Monde.

The case was reported in 2017 to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists in the ‘impunity’ category after three years with no progress in the Ukrainian investigation.

The EFJ affiliate in Italy, the Federazione della Stampa Italiana (FNSI), as well as the Lombard Association of Journalists, joined the legal action and welcomed the court’s decision:

“We note with satisfaction that the Corte d’Assise di Pavia acknowledged Andrea Rocchelli and Andrej Mironov were killed while trying to put light on a forgotten war. And it seems equally enlightening that the judges wanted to recognise how, through their murder, the Article 21 of the Constitution and the right of citizens to be informed were affected”, said FNSI General secretary Raffaele Lorusso.

Yesterday, the FNSI reported to the police threats sent by Ukrainian websites against Italian journalists who covered the trial and lawyers who supported the Rocchelli family.

Credit photo: La Provincia Paese / Giorgio Garbi