Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
ROME

CIA imam snatch convictions upheld, extraditions sought

English
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Rome, September 19 - Italy's top court of appeals
on Thursday upheld the convictions of 22 CIA agents and a
retired US air force officer found guilty of abducting Muslim
cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr from Milan in 2003.
The Court of Cassation confirmed the seven-year sentences
for 22 of them and a nine-year term for former Milan station
chief Robert Seldon Lady.
The justice ministry said Italy will ask for extraditions.
Italy's top two former military intelligence officers,
former SISMI (now AISE) chief Nicolo' Pollari and his ex-No.2
Marco Mancini, must be retried in the Milan Court of Appeals,
the supreme court ordered.
The two have repeatedly been acquitted on appeal in the
past because of the state-secrecy injunction.
Lower-ranking ex-Sismi officers Pio Pompa and Luciano Seno,
had their sentences of two years and eight months confirmed.
Nasr, an Islamist wanted in Italy on suspicion of
recruiting jihadi fighters, disappeared from a Milan street on
February 17, 2003 and emerged from an Egyptian prison four years
later claiming he had been tortured.
The cleric, who is also known as Abu Omar, did not attend
the trial.
Prosecutors said he was snatched by a team of CIA
operatives with SISMI's help and taken to a NATO base in
Ramstein, Germany, en route to Cairo.
In the closely watched case, the world's first judicial
examination of the controversial United States practice of
extraordinary rendition, the agents' terms were lengthened from
5-8 years to 7-9 years in December 2010.
The prosecution had sought convictions ranging from eight
to 12 years for the 23.
But the CIA's former Italy chief, Jeff Castelli, was
excluded from the proceedings at the last minute on a
technicality along with two other operatives, Betnie Medero and
Ralph Russomando.
For the three, acquitted at the first trial in November
2009 on the grounds of diplomatic immunity, the appeals process
started from scratch.
The prosecutor in the trial had requested a 12-year
sentence for Castelli and eight years for the other two.
The court also ordered the 22 CIA officers and the retired
colonel to pay one million euros in damages to Nasr and 500,000
euros to his wife.
The prosecutor had sought 12 years for Pollari and 10 for
Mancini.
None of the CIA operatives have ever appeared in court
here.

US-ITALIAN FRICTION.
The case had caused friction between Italy and the United
States, which voiced its "disappointment" with the 2010 verdict.
Former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he
sympathised with US concerns, noting that the judiciary in Italy
was independent but despite this, the Italian government had
obtained the secrecy injunction.
Some of the agents had said they were worried they would
become international fugitives but Frattini said he "didn't
think they would go to jail".
Extraordinary rendition was first authorised by former
American president Bill Clinton in the 1990s and stepped up when
his successor George W. Bush declared war on terror after the
September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda.
Successive Italian governments denied all knowledge of
the case and consistently ruled out the possibility of
extradition.
During the trials the CIA had refused to comment and its
officers were silent until Lady, the ex-Milan chief, told an
Italian daily in August 2009 that he was only following orders.
Lady, who has now retired, said from an undisclosed
location that he was "a soldier...in a war against
terrorism".
The trial of Nasr claimed headlines worldwide and stoked
discussion of rendition, which was extended by President Barack
Obama in 2008 under the proviso that detainees' rights should
be respected.
The Council of Europe, a 47-nation human rights body,
called Nasr's case a "perfect example of rendition".

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