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Italy CIA rendition trial opens without US defendants

[JURIST] The trial of 26 US Central Intelligence Agency agents [JURIST news archive] and two former Italian intelligence officials in the 2003 abduction and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr [JURIST news archive; Wikipedia profile] opened in Milan Friday in the absence of all American defendants. This is the first trial based on the CIA rendition program, but US officials have said that the defendants will not be turned over to Italian custody [JURIST report], even if requested by the Italian government. The Italian government has meanwhile asked its Constitutional Court [official website] to throw out the indictments [JURIST report] of the intelligence agents, but that court will not make a ruling until the fall. It is expected that the defense will seek to delay the trial pending the outcome of the Constitutional Court decision.

Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized on the streets of Milan by CIA agents with the help of Italy's Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website]. He was then allegedly transferred to Egypt and turned over to Egypt's State Security Intelligence (SSI) [Wikipedia backgrounder], where he said he was tortured before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007. BBC News has more.

11:55 AM ET - After ruling on several preliminary motions, Judge Oscar Magi has postponed the trial until June 18 to give himself time to consider the defense application for putting off the proceeding until Italy's Constitutional Court rules on the indictments. The Irish Examiner has more.

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