22 CIA Agents Convicted in Italy Kidnapping Case

World | November 4, 2009, Wednesday // 19:44|  views

The courtroom of the Milan tribunal, where the trial for the kidnapping of Muslim cleric Abu Omar resulted in guilty charges for 23 American secret agents. Photo by BGNES

An Italian judge has convicted 23 Americans and two Italian secret agents for the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in 2003.

The American agents - all but one of them CIA personnel - were accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from Milan and sending him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured, the BBC reported.

The trial, which began in June 2007, is the first involving the CIA's so-called "extraordinary rendition" program.

Three Americans and five Italians have been acquitted in the case.

The CIA agents were all tried in their absence. CIA's Milan station chief at the time, Robert Lady, was given an eight-year term, while the other 22 Americans convicted were sentenced to five years in prison.

The two Italian agents were given three-year prison terms.

Italian prosecutors said Abu Omar was taken as part of the extraordinary rendition program carried out by the CIA, when terror suspects were moved between countries without any public legal process.

They told the court that Abu Omar had been kidnapped in daylight on a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Germany, and then Egypt, where he was held for years until being released without charge. Abu Omar was not allowed to leave Egypt to attend the trial.

The protracted Milan court proceedings have proved an irritant in relations between the United States and Italy. The CIA has declined to comment on the case, and the Italian government has denied any involvement.

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Tags: Abu Omar, CIA agent, Italy, Egypt, extraordinary rendition, Muslim cleric, Robert Lady


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