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Italy court rules Berlusconi can be called to testify in CIA rendition case

[JURIST] Italian Judge Oscar Magi ruled on Wednesday that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] can be called to testify in the trial of 26 Americans [JURIST news archive] and several former Italian intelligence officials for the 2003 abduction and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr [JURIST news archive]. Defense lawyers for former Italian Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website] chief Nicolo Pollari, one of the Italian intelligence officers on trial, requested testimony [JURIST report] from Berlusconi and former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi [BBC profile]. Pollari's lawyers hope to prove he was not involved in the kidnapping and rendition by having Berlusconi, Prodi, and other officials testify regarding classified government documents constituting state secrets. AP has more.

Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized on the streets of Milan by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives. He was then allegedly transferred to Egypt and turned over to Egypt's State Security Intelligence, where he said he was tortured before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007. The Italian cabinet relieved Pollari of his duties [JURIST report] as SISMI head in November 2006. Pollari has denied allegations [JURIST report] that he assisted the CIA with the operation. The 26 Americans, most of whom are CIA agents, are being tried in absentia. The US is not expected to hand them over to Italian authorities; despite prosecutorial pressure, the Italian government has refused to requested their extradition. Reuters has more.

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