16 febbraio 2007
Italy Indicts 26 Americans in C.I.A. Abduction Case
By IAN FISHER
Published: February 16, 2007
Feb. 16 — An Italian judge today ordered the first trial involving the
American program of kidnapping terror suspects on foreign soil,
indicting 26 Americans, most of them C.I.A. agents, but also Italy’s
former top spy.
The indictments covered the episode in which a
radical Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who disappeared
near his mosque in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, says he was kidnapped. The
cleric, known as Abu Omar, was freed this week from jail in Egypt,
where he says he was taken and then tortured.
Despite the indictment, issued by a judge in Milan, it is unlikely that any of the Americans will ever stand trial here.
the operatives, which included the top two C.I.A. officials in Italy at
the time, have left the country. Moreover, Italy has not requested
their extradition, and if it did, there seems little chance the Bush
administration would agree.
But the indictment nonetheless
marked a turning point in Europe, where anger is high at the secret
American program of “extraordinary renditions” that whisked away terror
suspects in contravention of the law after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror
This week, the Swiss government approved an
investigation into the flight that allegedly carried Mr. Nasr from
Italy to Germany, across Swiss airspace. The plane reportedly left from
an American air base in Germany to Egypt.
Late last month, a
German court issued an arrest warrant for 13 people suspected of
involvement in the kidnapping in Macedonia of a German citizen of
Lebanese descent. There are also investigations into extraordinary
renditions in Portugal and Spain.
Meantime this week, a European
parliamentary committee issued a detailed report into what it said were
“at least” 1,245 secret C.I.A. flights in Europe, some of them
involving extraordinary renditions. The report, which awaits approval
by the Parliament, is particularly sensitive because it suggested
forcibly that a number of governments knew of the flights.
believe there has been either active collusion by several E.U.
governments or turning a blind eye,” one member of the European
Parliament, Baroness Sarah Ludford of Britain, said this week.
in Italy, the possible complicity of the government of then-Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi is one of the most difficult issues in the
case. Among the Italians indicted today were Nicolo Pollari, who was
until earlier this year Italy’s chief of military intelligence, and his
former deputy, Marco Mancini.
Mr. Pollari has denied
responsibility, saying he cannot defend himself because he would need
to use evidence that is classified as state secrets. The suggestion is
that officials outranking Mr. Pollari, the nation’s chief spy, gave
approval for the kidnapping.
“We are very disappointed by the
decision of the judge, being convinced that the lack of proof and the
acquisition of documents covered by secrets of state demonstrates
Pollari’s innocence,” Mr. Pollari’s lawyer, Tittal Madia, said,
according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
The case has
snarled Italian politics with several complications. Earlier this week,
the government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi asked the Constitutional
Court to review whether the prosecutor in Mr. Nasr’s case, Armando
Spataro, overstepped his bounds by wiretapping the phones of Italian
Today, Mr. Spataro said in a statement that he was
“astonished” by the government’s move, saying he had followed all the
laws in gathering evidence.
Meantime, a member of Mr. Prodi’s
government, Antonio Di Pietro, minister of infrastructure and a former
corruption prosecutor, criticized the government for not having
requested the extradition of the 26 C.I.A. agents.
government has not said whether it will make such requests. But the
issue looms as one more source of conflict between Italy and the United
While both American and Italian officials say the
relationship remains solid, it has been tested in recent months on
several fronts. On Saturday, a big demonstration is being planned in
Vicenza, in northern Italy, where the Americans have asked to enlarge
an existing air base, and Italian officials have recently criticized
American actions in Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia.
month, an Italian court ordered an American soldier to stand trial for
the death in Iraq of Nicola Calipari, an Italian secret service agent
killed in 2005 while securing the release of a kidnapped Italian
journalist. As with the C.I.A. agents, the serviceman is unlikely to be
extradited to Italy.
New York Times
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