Italy: Swiss lawyer testifies at 'CIA kidnapping' trial

Milan, 6 Nov. (AKI) - Swiss lawyer Dick Marty is appearing as a witness at the controversial trial of five Italian intelligence agents and 26 Americans, most of them CIA agents, in the northern city of Milan. The defendants are charged with abducting an Egyptian-born Muslim cleric and terrorism suspect there in 2003. Marty last year wrote a report by Europe's top human rights body The Council of Europe on the CIA's alleged detentions and illegal flight transfers of terrorism suspects, known as 'extraordinary renditions'.

The court on Wednesday questioned Marty (photo) closely on his report. In his testimony, Marty argued that the alleged abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr - who is also known as Abu Omar - was part of a global CIA strategy involving several European states.

Marty described what are termed 'extraordinary renditions' as "beyond any legal framework and in grave violation of the European Convention on Human Rights."

"As in the US and Germany, the doctrine of 'state secrecy' has been invoked by the Italian government to try and block the judicial procedures aiming to establish the truth about serious human rights violations committed under its responsibility. This is unacceptable and unworthy of a state governed by law. Let justice take its course." Marty stated.

Two Italian military intelligence agents last month cited state secrecy when they refused to answer questions from lawyers in the 'Abu Omar' trial on orders they received from former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari.

"State secrecy is not being invoked to protect secrets - because the facts in question are largely known - but rather to protect the civil servants and politicians responsible for these abuses," Marty said.

"The Abu Omar affair is one of the rare cases where the alleged perpetrators of kidnapping carried out as part of the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' programme are facing justice," he said.

Marty's report accused 14 countries including Italy of collusion in a 'global spider's web' of CIA abductions of terror suspects carried out on their soil. EU states Poland and Romania also hosted secret CIA prisons where the abducted terror suspects were detained, the report claimed.

A report by members of the European Parliament last January also accused European Union states of violating human rights treaties by covering up clandestine CIA flights across Europe.


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