Italy mourns the 'extraordinary' Calipari

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The Independent Online

Veteran Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was a practised negotiator who had already helped arrange the safe return of two hostages kidnapped in Iraq.

Veteran Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was a practised negotiator who had already helped arrange the safe return of two hostages kidnapped in Iraq.

On Friday he succeeded once more when journalist Giuliana Sgrena was handed over to Italian officials following a month of captivity in the hands of Iraqi insurgents. But what should have been a triumphant return was shattered when the car taking Ms Sgrena, Mr Calipari and other agents to the Baghdad airport was fired upon by US troops and Mr Calipari was killed as he threw his body across Ms Sgrena.

His death has aroused a wave of reaction nationwide . At football matches and other sporting events across the country, spectators were observing a minute's silence, while in his home town of Reggio Calabria, in the south, the team were turning out wearing black armbands in tribute. There has also been a flood of requests to rename streets and piazzas after the agent.

"He was an extraordinary man," said Ms Sgrena's boyfriend Pier Scolari, whilenews of his death brought grief to other former hostages and their relatives. "Nicola Calipari was a beautiful person, a simple person. He was the person who freed me," said Simona Torretta on Friday as she left his home having gone to pay her respects to his family.

The aid worker was held hostage in Iraq for three weeks with her colleague, Simona Pari, before being released in September last year.

"We are very sorry. We owe these people so much," said her father, Luciano Pari.

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