Nancy Montgomery has written an interesting piece for Stars and Stripes on what happens when US personnel are convicted in Italian courts and sentenced to jail -- and then are due to rotate back to the States. Excerpt:
U.S. troops assigned here [in Italy] have long committed crimes with what amounts to impunity. In the past five years, there have been some 200 Italian prosecutions of U.S. troops, including cases involving assault, sexual assault and negligent homicide. But as of early this year, only one servicemember was jailed in Italy.
According to Cmdr. David Lee, SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] expert at the U.S. Region Legal Service in Naples, the U.S. has no authority to prevent troops facing prosecution in Italy from leaving when their two- or three-year tours are over. The exception, he said, is for troops in custody, either in an Italian jail or the U.S. military jail in Germany.
What’s more, Lee said, Italians do not object to this state of affairs.
The relationship between U.S. and Italian legal officials is so “mature,” Lee said, that in minor cases — traffic offenses, minor assaults, thefts — Italian prosecutors don’t expect to even be told when a troop is due to rotate, either to leave the service or go to another base.
In more serious cases, Italian prosecutors are informed, but “a lot of the time, the prosecutor will say, ‘Va bene,’ ” Lee said. “‘It’s fine.’ ”