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Obama hands $1.2 million to family of Italian killed in drone strike

Barack Obama apologised at the time and said he took \"full responsibility\" for all counter-terrorism operations.

Published: 17th September 2016 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2016 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

The US government has made a "donation" of $1.2 million (pounds 900,000) to the family of an Italian aid worker who was killed in an American drone strike on an al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan.

It is believed to be the first time that such a deal has been disclosed in detail as the US pursues an aggressive policy of drone attacks in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and other countries, some of which have killed innocent civilians.

The Americans stipulated that the payment should in no way be seen as compensation because that would imply an admission of culpability.

Giovanni Lo Porto, 37, was killed in January last year when drones operated by the CIA struck an al-Qaeda base on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. He was being held hostage there, having been kidnapped by extremists in 2012 along with a colleague from the German organisation for which he was working. The German man was later freed in a raid by German special forces.

The US drone strike which inadvertently killed Mr Lo Porto also killed an American aid worker, Warren Weinstein.

A legal document obtained by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and seen by The Daily Telegraph shows that an American official at the US Embassy in Rome made the offer to Mr Lo Porto's family in July this year.

The sum is described as "an ex-gratia payment/donation in the memory of Mr Giovanni Lo Porto".

The document lists the recipients of the money as Vito Lo Porto and Giuseppa Pia Felice, Mr Lo Porto's parents, who signed the legal papers and provided their bank account details.

The family's acceptance of the deal was confirmed by Daniele Lo Porto, the brother of Giovanni. "It's a donation, not compensation," he said yesterday (Friday). "We will continue to demand the truth of exactly what happened."

"Nothing in this instrument implies a waiver to sovereign or personal immunity," the document states.

The deaths of Mr Lo Porto and Mr Weinstein were only announced by the US in April last year, four months after they took place.

Barack Obama apologised at the time and said he took "full responsibility" for all counter-terrorism operations.

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