Italy: Judge to rule if national security applies in rendition trial

Milan, 15 Oct. (AKI) - Italian judge Osar Magi will rule next week whether a witness in a CIA kidnapping trial can refuse to testify by citing national security concerns, lawyers attending the closed session said Wednesday.

Military intelligence agent Giuseppe Scandone declined to respond to a question from a lawyer defending the former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari.

Scandone declined to state whether Pollari had ever asked secret service agents to take part in the CIA's extra rendition programme or other illegal operations connected to the fight against Islamist terrorism, citing state secrecy.

Wednesday's hearing was adjourned until next Wednesday.

Five Italian intelligence agents and 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, charged with abducting Egyptian-born cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on 17 February, 2003.

Nasr's abduction allegedly took place as part of the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' programme to abduct and secretly transfer terrorism suspects to third countries.

Nasr, who was suspected of recruiting Islamic fighters to train in Afghanistan, has claimed he was kidnapped on his way to Milan's viale Jenner mosque and was tortured in Egyptian custody.

Before Wednesday's hearing, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, sent a letter defining national security to Italy's secret service chiefs and to Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa.

The letter reportedly states that state secrecy applies to relations between Italian and foreign intelligence services but not in the case of 'Abu Omar'.


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