CIA "rendition" trial to resume in Italy

20th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

The trial began in June 2007 but was suspended that same month to allow Italy's constitutional court to rule on allegations by the government that prosecutors had violated state secrets in gathering evidence.

Milan -- A Milan judge ruled Wednesday for the resumption of a landmark trial on the alleged abduction in Italy of a terrorism suspect by CIA agents, news reports said.

The trial began in June 2007 but was suspended that same month to allow Italy's constitutional court to rule on allegations by the government that prosecutors had violated state secrets in gathering evidence.

But on Wednesday Judge Oscar Magi ruled that the date set for the constitutional court to consider the case - July 8 2008 - contravened an article in Italy's constitution on the "reasonable length of trials" according to the ANSA news agency.

A total of 33 defendants - mostly CIA agents as well as several top Italian intelligence official - are accused of kidnapping an Egyptian imam from the streets of Milan in February 2003, with the complicity of Italy's SISMI agency.

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who is better known in Italy as Abu Omar, was on his way to Milan's main mosque when he disappeared.

At the time Omar was being investigated by Italian prosecutors on terrorism charges.

According to prosecutor Armando Spataro, Omar was flown to Germany and eventually "rendered" by the United States to his native Egypt, where he claims to have been tortured while in prison in a cell near Cairo.

Italian prosecutors probing the alleged links between SISMI officials and the CIA agents in the case, seized several classified documents - a violation of Italy's protection of state secrets provisions according to the government.

On Wednesday, Magi ruled that papers seized by police in a search at the offices of a former SISMI official Pio Pompa would not be allowed as evidence in the proceedings.

The trial is the first of its kind targeting the so-called "extraordinary renditions," one of the most controversial aspects of US President George W Bush's global war on terrorism.

DPA with Expatica

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