Italian prosecutor seeks 13 years for CIA man in kidnap case

MILAN, Gina Doggett - A leading Italian prosecutor on Wednesday demanded a 13-year prison term for former CIA station chief in Rome Jeff Castelli for his role in the 2003 kidnapping of a terror suspect in Milan.
Armando Spataro is also seeking 13 years for Nicolo Pollari, the former head of Italian military intelligence who resigned over the kidnapping.

Italian prosecutor seeks 13 years for CIA man in kidnap case
The former CIA sub-station chief in Milan, Robert Lady, should be sentenced to 12 years, as well as Sabrina De Sousa, formerly of the US embassy in Rome, Spataro said.
Abu Omar, whose real name is Osama Hassan Nasr, was abducted in broad daylight while walking to his mosque here in what was thought to be among scores of covert kidnappings around the world since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The abduction was part of the CIA's so-called "extraordinary rendition" programme under which suspects were sent for interrogation to countries known to practise torture.
Spataro is seeking 11 years for the US agents present in the street during the kidnapping of Egyptian imam Abu Omar on February 17, 2003.
Spataro, saying he had "unequivocal proof of responsibility" on the part of all the defendants, urged prison terms of 10 years for CIA agents Victor Castellano and Eliana Castaldo, as well as US air force Colonel Joseph Romano, then head of security at Aviano air force base.
In all, 26 US agents are being tried in absentia in the case.
Successive Italian governments have refused to seek their extradition, the subject of a bitter lament by Spataro.
"In the United States there is a precise convention that requires a response to an extradition request, even if it is negative," he said, calling it "strange" that for three years the Italian justice ministry never replied to his requests.
Abu Omar, a radical Islamist opposition figure who enjoyed political asylum in Italy, was taken to the US air force base in Aviano, northeastern Italy, then flown to the US base in Ramstein, Germany, and on to Cairo, Spataro said.
Abu Omar was incarcerated for four years during which he says he was tortured.
Spataro denounced what he called "barbaric and brutal methods that were used in recent years against terrorism because of a collective madness."
Interpol has issued international arrest warrants for all 26 US defendants in the case, while Italian government lawyers sought to have it thrown out as a threat to national security.
The issue went before Italy's Constitutional Court, which agreed that part of the investigation had violated state secrecy provisions but said the prosecution could use evidence obtained correctly.
Spataro argued again Wednesday that criminal acts cannot be covered by state secrecy provisions.
The prosecutor, who made his name through his work against the left-wing militant group the Red Brigades that was active in the 1970s, had been building a potential terrorism case against Abu Omar for months before the kidnapping and had secured convictions of a number of his acquaintances.
During closing arguments last week he questioned the timing of the CIA operation while he was closing in on the "flow" of terror suspects through Italy, saying it "hurt the fight against terrorism."
Abu Omar, through his lawyer, has denied allegations that he fought in Afghanistan and was involved in recruiting fighters to go to Iraq.
A verdict is expected by the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 30th 2009
Gina Doggett

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