An appeals court in Milan, Italy, overturned earlier acquittals of a former CIA station chief and two other Americans. The court then convicted them in the case of the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect in 2003 as part of the CIA rendition program.
This final decision means that all 26 Americans who were tried in absentia for the abduction have now been found guilty. The Italian government, including the recent technical government of Mario Monti, have invoked state secrets doctrine to avoid releasing relevant evidence. This enabled the government to avoid the conviction of five Italians including two spy chiefs. Last year, Italy's highest court had upheld the conviction of 23 other Americans.
A lower court had convicted 23 other Americans in 2009, but had acquitted the other three on the grounds that they had diplomatic immunity. The appeals court has now convicted the CIA Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli, and sentenced him to seven years. The other two Americans were given sentences of six years.
None of the 26 Americans were ever apprehended by Italian police nor have any appeared in court. There are arrest warrants though within Europe, so if they travel to Europe they could be arrested. Only the Milan CIA station chief, Robert Lady, has a sentence long enough for extradition from the US to be requested, after a general amnesty reduced the sentence length of all those convicted. Any last extradition request will have to be made by the new government to be elected later this year.
The original abduction was of an Egyptian terror suspect and cleric Osama Moustafa Nasr
also known as Abu Omar. He was abducted on Feb. 17, 2003 and transferred to US bases in Italy and then Germany before being flown to Egypt where he was tortured. Nasr was not finally released from jail until February 11, 2007. He was never convicted of anything.
Another appeals case involves the five Italians who were given acquittals because potential evidence against them involved state secrets. The case has just opened in Milan.