Monti, Berlusconi, Prodi not called to cleric snatch trial

Won't have to explain State-secrecy injunction in ex-spies case

Monti, Berlusconi, Prodi not called to cleric snatch trial

Milan, January 28 - Judges on Monday rejected a defence call for outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti and his predecessors Silvio Berlusconi and Romano Prodi to testify at a trial of two Italian spies accused of taking part in the 2003 extraordinary rendition by the CIA of a Muslim cleric in Milan. Defence lawyers acting for the former No.2 of the Italian secret service, Marco Mancini, argued the three premiers should take the stand to explain a State-secrecy injunction imposed by their governments. Mancini and his former boss Niccolo' Pollari are being retried after two previous acquittals thanks to the injunction. But the judges admitted evidence from Mancini and other spies on the grounds that Italy's top court of appeals, the Cassation Court, last year partially rejected the State-secrecy injunction. In September the Cassation Court upheld the convictions of 22 CIA agents and a retired US air force officer in the abduction of suspected jihadist recruiter Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr, who was flown to Egypt where he says he was tortured. The court said they should be extradited but, like previous governments, Monti's did not request that. The case was the first judicial examination of extraordinary rendition, one of the controversial practices of America's war on terror, first authorised by Bill Clinton, widely used under George W. Bush, and extended by Obama on the condition that torture was stopped.

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