Home News Italy high court backs govt in CIA kidnap case

Italy high court backs govt in CIA kidnap case

Published on 12/03/2009

Rome — Italy’s constitutional court Wednesday backed the government in the case of a 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, saying state secrets were violated in the probe, ANSA news agency reported.

The court ruled in favour of the government of conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-left predecessor Romano Prodi who argued that wiretap surveillance of the Italian secret services contravened state secrecy laws, ANSA said.

Much of the case against the 26 American defendants — 25 CIA agents and a US air force colonel — and seven Italians rests on the wiretap transcripts.

The case, the first in Europe over the CIA’s so-called "extraordinary rendition" programme under which it has secretly transferred terror suspects to third countries known to practise torture, will probably be thrown out, since only evidence not obtained through the wiretaps will be permissible.

The prosecution had opposed the defence application, arguing that "facts which jeopardise the constitutional order cannot be covered by state secrecy laws".

Osama Mustafa Hassan, an imam better known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street on February 17, 2003, in an operation coordinated by the CIA and Italian military intelligence.

Abu Omar was transferred to a high-security prison outside Cairo, where he was held for four years. After his release in February 2007, he told of torture and humiliation during his incarceration such as being forced to defecate on the floor of his cell.