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Italy reactivates case against kidnapped Egyptian imam

Italian prosecutors reactivate case against Egyptian imam accused of terrorism, believed to be kidnapped by CIA in 2003 and transferred to Egypt

AP, Friday 22 Nov 2013
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Views: 923

An Egyptian cleric kidnapped from Milan in 2003 as part of the CIA's extraordinary renditions program is facing trial in absentia in Italy on terrorism charges stemming from a decade-old investigation.

Prosecutors on Friday requested a prison sentence of six years and eight months for Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who is in Egypt and unlikely to be handed over if convicted.

A verdict is expected next month in the closed-door fast-track trial, which included only one day of evidence on Friday.

Italy was investigating the former Milan imam when he was kidnapped from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

Twenty-six Americans, mostly CIA agents, were convicted of kidnapping and handed sentences ranging from five to nine years in the only trial anywhere involving the CIA's program to kidnap terror suspects and transfer them to third countries that permitted torture.

All were tried in asbsentia and none served any prison time.

Italy's president has pardoned a U.S. Air Force colonel, the only member of the U.S. military prosecuted in the case.

A former CIA base chief who received the stiffest sentence — nine years — is the only one who faces an international arrest warrant. Robert Seldon Lady was briefly held in Panama on the warrant this summer before being returned to the United States. He has requested a pardon from Italy.

The terrorism case against Nasr was dormant until prosecutors reactivated it last May. The investigation dating from at least 2002 culminated with an arrest warrant in 2005, while the case against Nasr's kidnappers was being made.

"The trial must be carried out," Prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli said.

Nasr is charged with criminal association with the goal of terrorism and with aiding illegal emigration with the goal of terrorism, for allegedly helping organize false documents to help bring recruits to Islamic terror camps.

After being kidnapped, Nasr was transferred to Egypt where he claims he was tortured. He is no longer in Egyptian custody. His lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, who visited Nasr last March, said he is under surveillance and is not free to leave the country.

Italian prosecutors said Egypt did not respond to requests to question him or bring him to Italy for trial.

Scambia denies that Nasr was involved with terrorist activities while he was imam of a Milan mosque.

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