Lake Maggiore boat accident: Questions remain over spy deaths
The narrative of a boat that sank on Lake Maggiore on 28 May has elements of a spy novel.
Four individuals, unfortunately, drowned on the picturesque and famous lake south of the Swiss Alps.
One was a former agent from Israel’s spy agency Mossad, two were Italian intelligence officers and the fourth victim was a Russian woman.
They were among 23 individuals on board the little boat that set off to voyage the lake.
It is no doubt a traumatic event for the survivors and for the families who lost loved ones – but a number of facts about the case have prompted speculation about what exactly happened.
Lake Maggiore and its shoreline are split between the Italian districts of Lombardy and Piedmont and the Swiss canton of Ticino.
Several companies that produce technology capable of both military and civilian use are located in Lombardy – and Switzerland is considered a transit country for many intelligence members.
And some of the people on the boat, of both nationalities, had apartments and houses there.
The paper il Corriere della Sera reports that the region ensures the governments of Italy and Israel-specific freedom of movement.
While certain reports say the boat ride was an innocent pleasure trip, a few significant Italian media sources are revealing that it was a mystery work meeting among Italian and Israeli specialists.
There is enormous interest in the accident and public prosecutor Carlo Nocerino has been entrusted with figuring out what occurred. He says 13 of those on board were Italian agents and eight were Israeli agents. Only the captain, Claudio Carminati, and his Russian wife did not work in intelligence.
The cruise was planned to celebrate the birthday of someone on board. The 15-meter-long boat was an apt choice – it was called “Good…uria”, a play on words that mean “pleasure”.
But this boat was suddenly hit by a fierce storm with gusts of over 70km (43m) per hour.
“In a matter of thirty seconds, an apocalypse descended upon us,” was how Mr. Carminati described the incident, according to the Italian newspaper il Corriere della Sera. “The boat immediately capsized, and we fell into the water.”
Mr. Carminati told investigators that no bad weather had been forecast. The boat was still on the lake after the scheduled return time.
He is now being investigated for the possible crimes of causing a shipwreck and culpable homicide.
His wife, Anna Bozhkova, was a 50-year-old Russian woman who had a residence permit to live in Italy.
The other victims were Tiziana Barnobi, 53, and Claudio Alonzi, 62 – both members of the Italian secret service.
An Israeli man, 50-year-old Simoni Erez, also died. He was a retired Mossad agent. His name was published in the Italian media, even as media outlets in Israel continued to refrain from reporting it.
The others who were aboard the boat managed to swim to shore or were pulled from the water by other vessels that were dispatched to help or happened to be in the area.
The cause of all deaths is drowning, although Italian news outlets report that no post-mortem examinations have been carried out.