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EU lawmakers hear US renditions evidence

[JURIST] A Human Rights Watch expert Thursday told members of a European Parliament [official website] committee formed to investigate allegations that the US has transferred prisoners through Europe on secret extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] flights that the United States has gone to great lengths to cover up evidence of the flights and urged the EU lawmakers to encourage other witnesses to provide detailed information to establish their existence. Human Rights Watch and other groups have claimed that the CIA flew suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to secret prisons in Poland and Romania, and may have conducted rendition flights through other European countries. The EU has threatened sanctions [JURIST report], including suspension of bloc voting rights [JURIST report], against any of its members found to have housed secret detention facilities or assisted in rendition in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and international aviation agreements. The European Parliament announced in December that it was undertaking an investigation [JURIST report] of the rendition claims.

The EU panel also heard Thursday from Armando Spataro, a Milan prosecutor who has issued international arrest warrants for 22 CIA operatives wanted in Italy in connection with the 2003 rendition kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from Milan for transfer to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured. Spatero told the committee that he expected to complete his investigation of that incident in March and could begin trials of the accused in absentia if necessary [Reuters report; JURIST report], although he was still hoping for what he called "formal legal cooperation" from the US. AP has more.

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