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Italy CIA rendition trial delayed while high court frames reasons for excluding evidence

[JURIST] The Italian judge presiding over the kidnapping trail of 26 Americans and seven Italians [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday postponed the trial until April 22. Judge Oscar Magi suspended the case [AP report] in order to allow Italy's Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] to explain its ruling last week [Reuters report] excluding certain evidence from the case on the grounds of national security [JURIST report]. The case involves 25 American CIA agents and one US Air Force colonel being tried in absentia, along with seven Italian military intelligence officials, who are charged in the 2003 abduction and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr [JURIST news archive]. The Constitutional Court had issued a ruling excluding key evidence based on prosecutors' violations of national security laws when they obtained classified evidence of the identities of members of Italy's Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website, in Italian] and their relationships with US CIA agents. While the ruling is seen as damaging to the criminal case, lead prosecutor Armando Spataro said he approved [AFP report] of the delay for clarification purposes.

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. The trial has been delayed many times through out its course. Most recently, Magi delayed the trial for three months [JURIST report] in December after the government said the testimony could compromise Italy’s national security.

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