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Prison Requested for Americans in Italian CIA Case

Alex Constantine - October 2, 2009


MILAN — An Italian prosecutor on Wednesday urged a court in Milan to give 26 Americans 10 to 13 years in prison each for the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in a CIA renditions operation.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro also asked the court to convict and sentence the former head of Italy's military intelligence agency, Nicolo Pollari, to 13 years in prison and requested lesser sentences for two other Italian defendants.

Spataro gave his closing arguments in a trial that is the first in any country to scrutinize the CIA's extraordinary renditions. Under that program, the U.S. spy agency transferred terrorism suspects to third countries for interrogation.

Spataro asked for 13 years in prison for Jeff Castelli, former Rome CIA station chief, and 12 years for Robert Seldon Lady, former Milan CIA station chief, as well as for Sabrina De Sousa, who was in the Rome Embassy and was described by the prosecution as Lady's superior.

The prosecutor alleges that Castelli and Pollari were the chief organizers of the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a suspected terrorist also known as Abu Omar.

Spataro asked that charges be dropped against three Italian defendants following a decision by Italy's Constitutional Court that excluded some evidence from the case, ruling that it was classified due to national security.

The defense must still make its final arguments. A verdict is expected by the end of the year.

The Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, are being tried in absentia and are considered fugitives by the Italian court. The American suspects also include a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who worked at the Aviano air base in northern Italy.

Lawyers for the defendants have entered innocent pleas and the CIA has refused to comment on the case. The Italian defendants have also denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Nasr was kidnapped from a Milan street in broad daylight on Feb. 17, 2003. He was then allegedly driven from Milan to the Aviano, flown to the Ramstein air base in southern Germany and then to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured.

Nasr has been released but remains in Egypt and has not testified at the trial.


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