read the news // live the culture

Failed rescue operation stirs row between Italy and Britain

  Friday 9th March 2012

After Nigeria failed rescue operation, Italian anger mounts. A diplomatic row between Italy and Britain is bursting today following the rescue mission to free two hostages – one British and one Italian- held in Nigeria.

British construction worker Chris McManus, 28, and his colleague, engineer Franco Lamolinara, 47,  were both working for an Italian building company and had been held by their captors for ten months. The pair was killed yesterday when a British special forces rescue operation, initiated by Prime Minister David Cameron, ended in tragedy.

British worker Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara died yesterday in a failed rescue operation in Nigeria

British worker Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara died yesterday in a failed rescue operation in Nigeria

Italian officials were furious at being kept in the dark by Downing Street over the operation, with authorities in Rome only being informed once the mission to save Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara was under way.

Yesterday night, David Cameron took responsibility for the action saying: “After months of not knowing where they were being held, we received credible information about their location. A window of opportunity arose to secure their release.”

It is the second time in two years that a rescue operation ordered by Mr Cameron fails. Scottish aid-worker Linda Norgrove died when the special forces tried to rescue her from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Despite the Prime Minister’s official spokesman having said that “we [the Government] contacted the Italians yesterday as the operation was getting under way”, today, in Rome, a number of Italian MPs are demanding clarifications over why Italian authorities were kept in the dark about the operation.

Former Italian prime minister Massimo D’Alema declared: “We need to clarify the circumstances that led to the British authorities deciding to go ahead with this military operation without informing the Italian authorities, as an Italian national was involved.”

Licia Ronzulli, from People of Freedom Party stormed: “Mr Cameron cannot decide for Mr. Monti. Italy is a sovereign state and is a member of the European Union and should be considered as such.”

While Italy’s Northern League Party suggested to recall the Italian ambassador in London in a sign of protest, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said to RAI 3 microphones: “The behaviour of the British Government in not informing Italy is inexplicable. A political and diplomatic clarification is necessary.”

The anger and frustration was clearly present in the headlines: “An unacceptable slap and sorry is not enough”, titled the main national newspaper Corriere della Sera, while “Rome was not told” was the headline in La Stampa.

Number 10 said earlier that no official complaint had been received from the Italian government, and the UK had not made an apology.

Annalisa Ratti

More about the author

Share this story

  • Pin It
  • Share on Google+
  • Reddit
  • Stumble
  • LinkedIn

Latest related

Secret Cinema | Live event review
Secret Cinema | Live event review

Last night Secret Cinema finally opened its doors after last week’s high-profile cancellations. After a week of [read more]

Original recipe of the week: Spiced Balsamic Bean and Fruit Salad
Original recipe of the week: Spiced Balsamic Bean and Fruit Salad

On first perception mixing fruit and veg is kind of weird, but once you taste them together I guarantee you will be [read more]

Deliver Us from Evil | Movie review
Deliver Us from Evil

Filmmaker Scott Derrickson is no stranger to the horror genre with previous titles like Hellraiser: Inferno, The [read more]

The Guvnors | Movie review
The Guvnors

The Guvnors is a modern take on the classic London gangland thriller, albeit with an indie edge. Directed by Gabe [read more]

Edges at the Tabard | Theatre review
Edges at the Tabard

Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul in 2005, Edges gets its first professional UK outing, re-worked by director Adam [read more]