A judge in Rome has ordered a six-month extension of the investigation into alleged involvement of Italian-made weapons in the bombing that killed a family of six. Yemen.
Ahdal’s family were killed on 6 October 2016 when their home in Deir al-Jari, a village in northwest Yemen, was destroyed during an overnight bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia.
The fragments of the bomb that killed the family are traced back to RWM Italia, a unit of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall AG. RWM Italia is headquartered in the north Italy, with production facilities on the island of Sardinia. Italy’s export authority, UAMA, is also under investigation.
The six-month extension of the case, which the prosecutor said had to stop, occurred as reported by Print result newspaper this week that Italian arms exports to Saudi Arabia increased significantly when Matteo Renzi became prime minister between early 2014 and late 2016.
Renzi, a senator who heads the small Italian party Viva, was strongly condemned in January after attending an investment forum in Riyadh. During the Future Investment Initiative (FII) event, he interviewed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and praised him, calling Saudi Arabia “a place for a new revival for the future”.
Renzi has faced mounting pressure in recent days to clarify his relationship with the country after US intelligence services concluded in a report last week that Prince Mohammed. approved 2018 the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, told Italian news agencies Ansa on Wednesday that Renzi’s praise for the crown prince was “incomprehensible”. “Maybe he should try to understand the reality of the situation in Saudi Arabia better and what Bin Salman did to Jamal,” he said.
There have also been calls for Renzi to step down from his role as a member of the FII advisory board, for which he reportedly receives $ 80,000 a year. Renzi said in an interview this week that he carries out activities outside Italy “which are permitted by law”, and receives fees he pays taxes in Italy.
He said neither Italy Viva nor his Democrats received money from foreign governments, and he stressed the importance of having good relations with Saudi Arabia.
Investigations into RWM Italia and UAMA began shortly thereafter legal action by a group of human rights organizations from Italy, Germany and Yemen in 2018 asked prosecutors to investigate whether there had been any violation of Italian and international law in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The organization hopes that by focusing on the well-documented killings of Yemeni families they will increase their chances of success.
During Renzi’s tenure, Italian arms exports increased sixfold to € 14.6 billion, La Stampa reported. Of this amount, € 855 million worth of weapons entered Saudi Arabia, including 20,000 bombs made by RWM Italia worth € 411 million. Talks about a deal for the delivery of the Italian RWM began in 2014, and the deal was given the green light by UAMA in 2016.
In a statement emailed to the Guardian, Fabio Sgarzi, chief executive of RWM Italia, acknowledged the extension of the investigation and said two previous legal complaints by humanitarian groups had been “definitively dismissed by the prosecutor’s office without detecting any violations by RWM Italia.”
Sgarzi said RWM Italia was working “in strict compliance with authorizations issued by the state, which define the requirements under which the entire defense sector can export military goods,” and that would make itself available to courts for further verification as needed.
“I believe it will all end, as in the past, with confirmation that the company did the right thing,” he said.
In January, the Italian government under prime minister Giuseppe Conte blocked arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of its involvement in the Yemen conflict and in Khashoggi’s assassination. Several other EU countries froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2019.
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