Italian Prosecution Looking for More Spy Convictions

An earlier ruling by an Italian court that convicted 23 American and 2 Italian citizens has been appealed. The defendants were accused of kidnapping a terrorism suspect. Now, the Italian prosecution is trying to reverse some of the lower court’s decisions.  They have opened an appeal in hopes of incriminating the 5 other Italian agents who had been acquitted in the initial trial. The convictions are the first ever to involve the CIA’s ‘renditions’ program. The program allegedly circumvented U.S legal restrictions by moving a terrorism suspect to other jurisdictions with less limiting interrogation tactics.

During the opening session on Tuesday, the Italian appeals court was asked to reintroduce incriminating statements made by the Italian agents. These statements had been tossed because they were protected under Italian state secrecy. The court will reveal its decision about the statements on Monday, October 18.

The defendants are also rolling up their sleeves, filing appeals of their own. The lawyer for U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Romano has renewed his request for the trial to take place in an American court. He claims that because of SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), which the U.S and Italy signed, Italian authorities have no jurisdiction over the Aviano Air Force base. The base in Aviano is where the terrorism suspect was held before being removed to Egypt. The defense for one of the convicted Italians, Nicolo Pollari, has also requested that two Italian government officials be called to testify. Pollari, the former head of Military Intelligence, claims that Premier Silvio Berlusconi and former Premier Romano Prodi can prove his innocence.

While the courts mull over the appeals, Judge Oscar Magi stands by his original verdict. He says that using state secrecy as a defense creates an unnecessary tangle in the judicial system, especially when trying to identify the Italians’ roles in the kidnapping. He claims that Italian knowledge of the CIA operation is presumable, and that the Italian secret services were at least aware of, and maybe even acting in, the operation.


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Posted in: Spy News