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Italy court begins trial in absentia of Egyptian cleric

Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr [JURIST news archive] has gone on trial in absentia in Italy on charges of criminal association with the goal of terrorism and aiding illegal emigration with the goal of terrorism, based on an investigation from 2002. Before the investigation could be concluded and charges filed, Nasr was kidnapped [JURIST report] from a Milan street on February 17, 2003, through the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) [official website] extraordinary rendition program. Prosecutors requested [AP report] a prison sentence of six years and eight months for Nasr's alleged role in organizing false documents in order to recruit people for terror camp. A verdict is expected within the next month.

The revelation of the rendition of Nasr and others has resulted in strong criticism, with some describing the program as a "self-inflicted wound" [JURIST op-ed]. In October the European Parliament [official website] chastised EU member states' complicity with the CIA's rendition program, stating that the program has led to violations of fundamental rights and must end immediately. In 2012, the Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] upheld the 2009 convictions in absentia of 23 CIA officers for their involvement in Nasr's kidnapping and rendition, and their subsequent increase in sentence [JURIST reports] in 2010 by an Italian intermediate appellate court.

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