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Italy court again suspends CIA rendition trial to consider state secrets testimony

[JURIST] Italian Judge Oscar Magi on Wednesday suspended the in absentia trial of 26 Americans [JURIST news archive], most of them suspected of working for the CIA, and five former Italian intelligence officials for the 2003 abduction and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr [JURIST news archive] after the government said the testimony could compromise Italy’s national security. The three-month suspension, which follows an earlier postponement [JURIST report] in mid-October, will enable Italy’s Constitutional Court to resolve the question of national security. Both Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his predecessor, former Prime Minister Romano Prodi [BBC profile], have warned that testimony from intelligence agents could jeopardize future collaboration between Italian spy services and the CIA. Prosecutor Armando Spataro has accused Berlusconi, ex-Italian military intelligence agency chief Niccolo Pollari, and others of obstructing justice by refusing to let the Italian agents testify.

Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized on the streets of Milan by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egypt's State Security Intelligence before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007. Defense lawyers for Pollari have said they need Italian agents' testimony and classified government documents to assert their defense that Pollari was not involved in the kidnapping. Last May, Magi ruled that Berlusconi can be called to testify [JURIST report].

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