Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
MILAN

Ex-spy chief 'stunned' by ruling on CIA snatch sentence

English
© ANSA

Milan, April 5 - Former Italian intelligence
service chief Nicolo' Pollari on Friday said he was "stunned"
after judges issued their explanation for the 10-year sentence
they gave the ex-top spy in February for his role in the CIA
abduction of a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003.
"In Italy, those who do their job are persecuted. Those who
observe the law are condemned," Pollari told ANSA.
On Friday judges said Pollari allowed the CIA to commit "a
grave violation of national sovereignty" when they snatched
Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr.
Pollari provided "support" for the controversial operation,
which was subjected to the world's first judicial examination of
the controversial US practice of extraordinary rendition in the
so-called war on terror.
On February 12 the Milan appeals court convicted ex-SISMI
(now AISE) chief Pollari over the abduction of Nasr, and gave
his former No.2, Marco Mancini, nine years.
They had both been acquitted because of a State-secrecy
injunction on two previous occasions.
Last September Italy's top court of appeals upheld the
convictions of 22 CIA agents and a retired US air force officer
found guilty of abducting Nasr.
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 might ask for extraditions,
but that has not happened so far.
Even if it were to occur, the US is unlikely to accede to
such a request.
Nasr, an Islamist suspected 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, nor Pollari's, at which he was awarded one million
euros in damages.
Nasr 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 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.
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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