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Italy appeals court orders release of former Guantanamo detainee

The Court of Appeals in Milan on Monday announced that they will overturn a lower court's verdict on Tunisian former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee Mohamed Riadh Ben Nasri [NYT materials]. Nasri was convicted of terrorism association two years ago, after he was transferred from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report] to stand trial in Italy. He was sentenced to six years in prison [JURIST report] for recruiting martyrs to commit acts of terrorism. Nasri and his lawyer alleged that he was tortured extensively [la Repubblica report, in Italian] while being detained by US forces. It is unknown if this influenced the court's decision, as Nasri contended that he was beaten until he admitted he was part of al Qaeda. The court also upheld the sentence of Tlili Lazar under similar charges. Reasoning behind the two decisions will be released in the next 30 days.

In April, Italy deported a different Tunisian national [JURIST report] and former Guantanamo Bay detainee for his connections to an extremist group that had planned various acts of terrorism in the country. Abdel Ben Mabrouk was transferred to Italy in 2009 in the same group as Nasri, part of US efforts to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. Despite criticisms, Guantanamo Bay remains open and an active detainment center for US prisoners. Last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] expressed disappointment that the US government has failed to close the detention facility. President Barack Obama ordered the facility closed by January 2010, but congressional opposition and administrative setbacks [JURIST reports] prevented the administration from meeting the deadline.

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