In January 2015, Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto were being held hostage by al-Qaeda when the CIA launched a drone strike against the compound. Both men were killed.
In April of that year, the Obama administration made a rare admission of guilt, saying that surveillance failed to show the presence of the two hostages, and promised a “full review.”
Nearly one year since that promise, Lo Porto’s family says they have had no contact with the US government.
This week, the family filed briefs in court to question the legality of US drone operations beyond declared armed conflicts.
“The statements from the White House were such a clear acknowledgement of the incident and commitment to do something about it,” Andrea Succucci, a leading human rights lawyer in Rome, told the Intercept.
“We want to know the truth, to know what happened, if someone is responsible, and if something could have been done in order to avoid it.”
The briefs include a request for US judicial cooperation and copies of the internal documentation about the incident. While Saccucci is relying on President Obama’s admission of guilt as key evidence, he admits that the likelihood of success is slim.
Saccucci could bring a claim against Italy in the European Court of Human Rights or a civil claim against the US in an Italian court.
Win or lose, the Lo Porto family seeks closure.
“If you lose a son, and you get an explanation, your heart can be at peace. But someone whose son is killed, and everyone washes their hands of it, and no one knows anything?” Daniele Lo Porto, the youngest of four brothers, told the Intercept.
Working for the Red Cross in Pakistan at the time of his capture, Lo Porto’s friends remember him as a kind person in search of a sense of validity in his world.
“It was in his nature to help people,” a friend, Claudia Hille, told the Intercept. “And I think he also wanted to get away from Italy. The international aid community is really open-minded, it’s like a special bubble, and I think he really liked that.”
After hearing Obama’s announcement last April, Daniele said he was outraged.
“My reaction? Anger,” he said.
“Obama said the intelligence service was watching, and yet no one knew anything? How could the Americans not see that there were two other people, the hostages? With the technology they have, can’t they see inside the houses?”
While attorneys work to hold the US government accountable, Daniele doesn’t have much hope.
“America could give us a palace full of money, and it wouldn’t matter. There can be no justice from America.”