While on assignment, the pair were hit on 24th May 2014 by shrapnel from mortar shells during a firefight near the flashpoint of Slavyansk, in the rebel-held east. French photographer William Roquelon, who was travelling with the two, was also seriously wounded. The three reporters had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack.
Rocchelli, 30, was the founder of the Cesura photo agency and a contributor to leading media organisations such as the American magazine Newsweek and the French daily Le Monde.
The case was reported in 2017 to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists in the ‘impunity’ category after three years with no progress in the Ukrainian investigation.
The IFJ affiliate in Italy, the Federazione della Stampa Italiana (FNSI), as well as the Lombard Association of Journalists, joined the legal action and welcomed the court’s decision.
FNSI General Secretary Raffaele Lorusso said: “We note with satisfaction that the Corte d’Assise di Pavia acknowledged Andrea Rocchelli and Andrej Mironov were killed while trying to put light on a forgotten war. And it seems equally enlightening that the judges wanted to recognise how, through their murder, the Article 21 of the Constitution and the right of citizens to be informed were affected.”
The FNSI has reported to the police threats sent by Ukrainian websites against Italian journalists who covered the trial and lawyers who supported the Rocchelli family.