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Italy high court overturns convictions in CIA rendition program

Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], on Monday dismissed the convictions of five Italian agents related to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] abduction and extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr [JURIST news archive]. The five agents [AP report] included the former chief of Italy's SISMI Intelligence service [official website, in Italian], Nicolo Pollari, his deputy, and three other agents. Pollari was sentenced [JURIST report] by a Milan court of appeals in February 2013 to 10 years in prison. Court officials did not offer public comment on the judgment, but Italian news sources reported [Reuters report] the Italian agents could not be prosecuted because of state secrecy laws. Monday's ruling could affect the upcoming trials of three Americans, who were convicted [JURIST report] within one week of Pollari last February for their role in the kidnapping and rendition of Nasr. The Americans' appeal is scheduled for March 11 in the Court of Cassation.

The rendition of Nasr has resulted in substantial judicial activity in Italy. In December 2013 an Italian court sentenced [JURIST report] Nasr to six years in prison after being convicted in absentia of terror charges. Last September a former Italian intelligence chief requested a pardon from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano [official website, in Italian] after a US Air Force Colonel was granted a pardon in April from Napolitano [JURIST reports]. The original convictions [JURIST report] in 2009 arose out of a three-year trial, in which 23 former CIA agents were sentenced.

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