Italian court rules that Ministry of Defence failed to protect Balkan peacekeepers
Another powerful precedent has been passed in the continuing flurry of court cases surrounding the high rates of death and sickness from lymphoma and leukaemia amongst Italian soldiers who served in conflicts where depleted uranium munitions were used.
In the latest case (10413/09) the judge ruled that there was a causal link between the soldier's service in Kosovo and Hodgkins Lymphoma - a type of cancer. The judge found the Ministry of Defence liable for €1.4m in damages having failed in its duty to protect the health of the soldier through the provision of warnings or adequate protective measures. The soldier, a corporal from Lecce in Puglia, southern Italy died in 2005, having returned from Kosovo in 2003. The compensation will go to the victim's family.
The ruling builds on the precedent set almost exactly one year ago by a court in Florence. In that ruling the court found that exposure to depleted uranium was the likely cause of paratrooper Gianbattista Marica's Hodgkin's lymphoma, from which he subsequently recovered. He was awarded €545,061 in compensation. The day after the ruling, the Italian government announced a 30m fund to compensate veterans. Data from the Ministry of Defence and published by the Mandelli Commission indicates that more than 2600 Italian veterans have been affected by lymphomas and leukaemia.
Marica had served in Somalia for eight months, from December 1992 to July 1993 as part of the Ibis Mission. There has never been a public admission from the US about the use of depleted uranium munitions in Somalia, although the US did warn its Italian allies that troops should be tested and supplied recommendations on urine testing. However Italian veterans' groups claim that the Defence Ministry failed to warn their troops of any potential risks. Records indicate that the US had Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft in Somalia during the mission there, but is unclear how much DU may have been used in the fighting.