Rome

Six military officers probed for fraud conspiracy (2)

Investigation sparked by officer's suicide in Kabul

Six military officers probed for fraud conspiracy (2)

Rome, November 28 - Rome military prosecutors have wrapped up an aggravated fraud conspiracy investigation against six Italian military officers in the rental of three armoured vehicles from an Afghan company headed by a man with international terrorist connections, ANSA learned Monday. The armour was lighter than it was supposed to be, placing the lives of military personnel at risk, prosecutors said. The investigation was sparked by the apparent suicide of 37-year-old Captain Marco Callegaro, who was found shot dead on the night between July 24 and 25, 2010, in his office at Kabul Airport. The Rovigo native was married with two children, and had just been on leave in Italy. The incident was ruled a suicide, although the officer's family raised doubts at to that version of events. The ensuing investigation uncovered alleged wrongdoing by the six officers, who faked the certificates on three vehicles rented from an Afghan company and destined for the senior Italian mission officer. Callegaro worked in the administrative office that greenlit a 100,000-euro payment for the rental of the three vehicles from March 1 to July 30, 2010. This resulted in 35,000 euros of illicit profits for the Afghan company, prosecutors say. Military police took statements from hundreds of military personnel of all ranks in both Afghanistan and Italy in the course of the investigation. A total of 28 military vehicles were seized from the Italian contingent stationed in Herat, along with four containers' worth of administrative and accounting paperwork. Investigation sources say they uncovered a "disconcerting picture of reiterated negotiations with an Afghan company" headed by a man with connections to international terrorism, and to whom bids were steered illicitly. Military prosecutors are ready to indict the six officers for conspiracy in aggravated military fraud. It will be up to civilian prosecutors to investigate on possible charges of corruption and on the circumstances of Callegaro's death.

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