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Italy Wants Cable Car Indictment

July 12, 1998

TRENTO, Italy (AP) _ An Italian prosecutor wants the crew of a U.S. Marine jet that severed a ski gondola cable in the Alps, killing 20, to be tried on multiple manslaughter charges.

A court hearing on Trento Prosecutor Francantonio Granero’s request for the indictment is scheduled for Monday. An Italian judge must rule on Granero’s indictment request.

The hearing is scheduled to take place just three days after a U.S. general ordered two of the crewmen be tried for manslaughter in the Feb. 3 tragedy.

Lt. Gen. Peter Pace, commander of Marine Corps Forces Atlantic, ruled Friday that there was enough evidence for a court-martial for Capt. Richard J. Ashby, the pilot, and Capt. Joseph P. Schweitzer, the navigator.

The United States insists it has sole jurisdiction in the case because of a NATO treaty. Washington maintains the EA-6B Prowler was flying under the auspices of NATO when it sent the ski gondola crashing to the ground, killing 19 skiers and the gondola operator.

Granero argued the plane violated the NATO treaty’s mandated flight patterns and the flight should be considered a U.S. mission _ which would give Italy jurisdiction. Granero also is challenging the constitutionality of the NATO treaty.

The pilots are in the ``paradoxical situation of a double trial and of a possible double conviction for the same deeds,″ the crew’s Italian lawyers, Bruno and Antonio Malattia, said in a fax to news media Saturday.

Granero also requested the indictment of three top U.S. military officials at the Aviano base in northern Italy, where the jet was stationed.

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