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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Milan Judge Says C.I.A. Trial to Continue, With Restrictions

A judge here ruled Wednesday that the trial of Italian and American intelligence agents accused of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric suspected of terrorism would continue even though critical evidence had been ruled inadmissible, severely undermining the prosecution’s case.

The judge, Oscar Magi, rejected a defense motion to throw out the charges, based on an Italian Supreme Court ruling issued this year that barred the use of classified information in the proceedings. He ruled that the prosecution could resume its case but that it could not refer to top secret information, including joint operations involving Italian and American spy services.
The Supreme Court ruling has resulted in the exclusion of much of the prosecution’s evidence, including material seized from Italian and American intelligence operatives, narrowing the chances of a ruling in favor of the cleric.

“We’re continuing, but it is more of a formality,” said the lawyer for Nicolò Pollari, the former chief of Italian military intelligence, who is among those on trial.

The case is the first to test the contentious American program of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are sent for interrogation to other countries, some of which use torture. On trial are 26 Americans, all but one of them operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency, and 7 members of the Italian military intelligence agency.


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