Italian court convicts three Americans for 2003 CIA kidnapping

Italian court convicts three Americans for 2003 CIA kidnapping
# 02 February 2013 00:06 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. An appeal court in Milan on Friday sentenced former CIA Italy chief and two other agents to jail for their role in the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Former CIA Rome bureau head Jeffrey Castelli was sentenced to seven years, while agents Betnie Medero and Ralph Russomando were handed a six-year sentence each in the same case. The three Americans had been previously acquitted on the grounds of diplomatic immunity by a lower court.

The appeal court's reasoning was expected to be released in two weeks, and defense lawyers said that they would decide whether to appeal to the highest court after reading it.

Italy's highest court last year upheld the convictions of 23 other Americans sentenced in 2009 in the same case. None of the CIA agents attended the trials nor have been in Italian custody, but they risk arrest if they travel to Europe.

The Italian convictions were the first in the world against CIA agents involved in a practice of extraordinary rendition alleged to have led to torture, local media said.

Abu Omar, a Muslim wanted in Italy on suspicion of recruiting jihadi fighters, disappeared from Milan on Feb. 17 in 2003, and emerged from an Egyptian prison four years later claiming that he had been tortured. He has since been released.

Prosecutors said that he was snatched by a team of CIA operatives with the help of Italy's secret service SISMI, and transferred to a NATO base in Germany before being flown to Cairo.

Also on Friday, a separate court in Italy's Perugia acquitted former SISMI head Nicolo Pollari and official Pio Pompa for alleged illegal spying charges in the case.

The two were accused of illegally obtaining confidential files on magistrates, officials and journalists related to the extraordinary rendition of the Muslim cleric.

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