Italian judge convicts 23 Americans in CIA renditions
Landmark case revolved around 2003 kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, who was grabbed off a street in Milan, then transferred to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany.
An Italian judge on Wednesday convicted 23 Americans in absentia of the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from a Milan street, in a landmark case involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition program in the war on terrorism.
Italian Judge Oscar Magi is seen at the Milan court, Italy,
Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009. AP
Citing diplomatic immunity, Judge Oscar Magi told the Milan courtroom Wednesday that he was acquitting three other Americans.
Former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, received eight years in prison. The other 22 convicted American defendants each received a five-year sentence.
The Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, were tried in absentia as subsequent Italian governments refused or ignored prosecutors' extradition request.
In Washington, CIA spokesman George Little declined to comment on the convictions. He said, “The CIA has not commented on any of the allegations surrounding Abu Omar,” the kidnapped man.
Lawyers for the 23 convicted Americans said they would appeal the convictions. The Americans remain fugitives from Italian justice and prosecutor Armando Spataro said he was considering asking the government to issue an international arrest warrant on the strength of the conviction. The government of Silvio Berlusconi, a close ally of President George W. Bush, has previously refused.
Judge Magi said he was acquitting five Italian defendants because an Italian high court ruled key evidence inadmissible as classified. Two of the Italian defendants were convicted as accomplices to kidnapping and received three-year sentences.
The verdict “sends a strong signal of the crimes committed by the CIA in Europe,” said Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch. The crimes were “unacceptable and unjustified,” said Ms. Mariner, who was in the courtroom for the verdict at the end of the nearly 3-year-long trial.
The Americans were accused of kidnapping Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003, in Milan, then transferring him to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany. He was then moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released, but has not been permitted to leave Egypt to attend the trial.
The trial is the first by any government over the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, which transferred suspects overseas for interrogation. Human rights advocates charge that renditions were the CIA's way to outsource the torture of prisoners to countries where it is permitted.
On Monday, an American federal court ruled that Maher Arar, an Ottawa telecommunications engineer, cannot sue the U.S. government for dispatching him seven years ago to Syria, where he was tortured amid post-9-11 suspicions he was an al-Qaeda terrorist.
Mr. Arar was held and interrogated in New York for almost two weeks before being sent to the country of his birth, where he spent a year in confinement before his release in 2003. A federal commission eventually ruled in his favour and he won a $10.5-million settlement.
Despite the Canadian ruling, the U.S. hasn't exonerated Mr. Arar and has, in fact, publicly stated it believes he has links to terrorist organizations. Mr. Arar and his family remain on a U.S. watch list.
The Milan proceedings have been a sore spot in relations between the United States and Italy. The CIA has declined to comment on the case, and Italy's government has denied involvement.
Among the Americans acquitted was Jeffrey Castelli, a former Rome CIA station chief, who prosecutors had alleged co-ordinated the abduction. The two other acquitted Americans were also assigned to the U.S. Embassy in the Italian capital and thus were covered by broad diplomatic immunity.
The trial continued despite obstacles that threatened to derail it, including Rome's refusal to co-operate with prosecutors.
In addition, Italy's highest court ruled some key evidence inadmissible because it is considered classified – including dossiers seized from the Rome apartment of an Italian intelligence agent and the testimony of a carabinieri officer allegedly at the scene of the kidnapping. That ruling was cited in the acquittal of the main Italian defendants, including the former head of military intelligence.
The government's will to enforce the verdict against the Americans, however, is unlikely to be tested any time soon. Sentences in Italy aren't served until all appeals are exhausted, a process that can take years.
The court also ruled that those convicted must pay €1-million to the Egyptian in damages and 500,000 euros to his wife.
Article from: TheGlobeAndMail.com
Judge convicts 23 Americans of kidnapping in CIA rendition
In another U-turn, Obama upholds Bush's rendition policy
CIA Admits to Existence of 7,000 Documents on Secret Detention, Rendition, and Torture
Detainee claims to have lied under CIA torture
Cheney: Spanish torture probe ‘abhorrent’
Spanish judge to hear torture case against six Bush officials
Latest News from our Front Page
Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials said to say
The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.
“We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior ...
The Return of the Protected Jewish Minority in Europe
Contrary to the standard narratives of Jewish ‘history,’ a prominent feature of the historical presence of Jews in Europe has been their protected status. The common context for this status was a symbiotic relationship between the Jewish minority and exploitative or tyrannical elites. As agents of the feared elite, as foreigners, as exploiters in their own right, and with interests ...
Truth Revealed: McCain’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria ARE ISIS
Poor John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Washington’s real first couple. They only want to arm the ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria. Three years on, how come their master plan isn’t working, while ISIS has grown so strong?
Despite what media lauded as, “the largest demonstration in France’s history – bigger than liberation at the end of WWII!” (can you rightly compare the ...
European 'No-Go' Zones: Fact or Fiction?
Comment: This is an interesting article about Muslim no-go Zones in Europe. However, keep in mind that the focus in this piece is not addressing the root of the problem, but a symptom of the problem. Yes, there is an issue with large Islamic colonies in Europe today, but the article mentions nothing about who has changed the immigration laws ...
A Radical Traditionalist Critique of the Anti-Islam Movement
The terrorist attack against the staff at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris shook an entire continent. In a European climate in which protests against the perceived Islamization of our civilizational sphere becomes ever more widespread, showing in increased electoral success for moderate nationalist parties, as well as in expressions of mass public dissent, the recent resurgence of violent Islamic ...
|More News » |