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'CIA agents' face abduction trial
Milan judge orders US intelligence agents to stand trial over alleged kidnap.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2007 13:48 GMT
Abu Omar was recently freed by the Egyptian authorities [EPA] 
A Milan judge has ordered 26 US citizens, most of them believed to be CIA agents, to stand trial on charges of the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian imam.
 
At least five Italians, including Nicolo Pollari, the former head of Italian military intelligence, were also ordered to stand trial.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was allegedly snatched from a Milan street and flown to Egypt, where he said he was tortured.
 
It is expected to be the first criminal trial over "renditions", one of the most controversial aspects of the Bush administration's "war on terror".
The trial will be the biggest ever of US intelligence agents in an allied country, although they will almost certainly be tried in absentia.
 
The Italian government has not yet sought the US citizens' extradition.
 
Legal battle
 
Bob Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan and one of the defendants, said via his lawyer last month that he did not recognise the court.
 
Abu Omar

"I have been reduced to a wreck of a human being"

All of the US agents have court-appointed lawyers, who have said they have had no contact with their clients.
 
Alessia Sorgato, a lawyer who represents three Americans, said she was happy about the ruling because she would be able to fully argue the case in court.
 
Judge Caterina Interlandi ordered the trial to start on June 8.
 
An Italian policeman, Luciano Pironi, has recieved a 21-month prison sentence as part of a plea-bargain deal after admitting stopping Omar on the street so the CIA could grab him.
 
He says the CIA told him they were trying to recruit Omar and that the operation was approved by Rome and the US.
 
Pollari says Italian military intelligence did nothing wrong but has not co-operated with the court, saying the evidence is covered by the state secrets act. 
 
'Wreck'
 
Omar said he was snatched from a Milan street and bundled into a van.
 
The cleric is thought to have been taken to the US air base in Aviano, northern Italy and from there transported to Egypt.
 
Omar was released from prison on Sunday and says he would like to return to Italy.
 
"I have been reduced to a wreck of a human being," he told ANSA news agency after his release.
 
European report
 
The European Parliament approved a report on Wednesday that said governments in the region helped conceal secret US transfers of terrorism suspects.
 
And prosecutors elsewhere in Europe are going ahead with cases aimed at the transfers.
 
This week, the Swiss government approved prosecutors' plans to investigate the flight that allegedly took Omar over Swiss air space from Italy to Germany.
 
And a Munich prosecutor recently issued arrest warrants for 13 people in connection with another alleged CIA-orchestrated kidnapping - a German citizen who says he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonia border and flown to Afghanistan.
 
Source:
Agencies
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