An Italian judge ruled May 20 that the trial of 26 Americans and seven Italians involving the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr by the CIA will proceed despite excluded evidence. Judge Oscar Magi of the Fourth Chamber of the Court of Milan determined that the case will continue despite a ruling by Italy’s Constitutional Court that excluded certain evidence on the grounds of national security.
The excluded evidence includes defense witnesses Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former prime minister Romano Prodi as well as prosecutorial evidence stemming from the classified identities of members of Italy’s Military Intelligence and Security Service and their relation to the CIA. The exclusion of the evidence was described by defense lawyers as a fatal blow for the prosecution.
Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized on the streets of Milan in 2003 by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egypt’s State Security Intelligence before being released in February 2007. The trial has been delayed many times throughout its course. In December, Magi delayed the trial for three months after the government said the testimony could compromise Italy’s national security. (Jurist, May 21)