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COE rendition investigator testifies in Italy CIA abduction trial

[JURIST] Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) [official website] rapporteur Dick Marty [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive] testified Wednesday at the trial of American and Italian intelligence officials for the 2003 abduction and rendition of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr [JURIST news archive], also known as Abu Omar. Recalling the findings of his own investigation [JURIST report], Marty said that the illegal transfer and detention of Omar was not an isolated incident, but rather an element of a larger CIA scheme, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. He went on [COE press release]:

As in the US and Germany, the doctrine of ‘state secrecy’ has been invoked by the Italian government to try and block the judicial procedures aiming to establish the truth about serious human rights violations committed under its responsibility. This is unacceptable and unworthy of a state governed by law. Let justice take its course!...State secrecy is not being invoked to protect secrets – because the facts in question are largely known – but rather to protect the civil servants and politicians responsible for these abuses...

The Abu Omar affair is one of the rare cases where the alleged perpetrators of kidnapping carried out as part of the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme [sic] are facing justice. The trials in the US and Germany, involving the El-Masri affair, have run into the sand after the ‘state secrets’ doctrine was invoked. Parliamentary enquiries [sic], such as the one carried out by the German Bundestag’s committee of enquiry [sic], have also come up against the executive’s refusal to provide certain information requested by the parliamentarians.
AKI has more.

Earlier last month, a judge on the Constitutional Court of Italy [official website, in Italian] suspended [JURIST report] the trial to consider whether it was legal to compel a witness to answer questions that might implicate state secrets. Italian intelligence agents Guiseppe Scandone refused to respond [AP report] when defense lawyers for the former Italian Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website] chief asked whether the chief ever ordered his subordinates to carry out the extraordinary rendition of a terror suspect. Omar was seized in Milan by CIA agents and Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egyptian intelligence before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007.

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