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Italy ex-spy chief sentenced to 10 years over CIA 'extraordinary rendition'

Andreas Solaro / AFP, file

Italian Intelligence agency (SISMI) chief Nicolo Pollari in 2006.

MILAN — Italy's former military intelligence chief was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric in an operation organized by the United States.

An American former CIA station chief was this month sentenced in absentia to seven years in jail after imam Abu Omar was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation during the United States' "war on terror."


The Milan appeals court sentenced Niccolo Pollari, former head of the Sismi military intelligence agency, to 10 years in prison and his former deputy Marco Mancini to nine years.

The court also awarded a provisional 1 million euros ($1.3 million) in damages to the imam, the Ansa news wire reported, as well as 500,000 euros to the imam's wife.

Nicola Madia, a lawyer for Pollari, said he was disturbed by the decision and that his client would appeal to Italy's highest court. Pollari will not have to go to jail until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Reuters, file

Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, speaks during a Reuters interview in his house in Alexandria, Egypt on May 13, 2008.

Madia said Pollari had not been able to defend himself properly because successive Italian governments had declared the case to be covered by state secrecy laws.

The sentences are part of the fallout from a campaign waged by then President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Abu Omar says he was tortured for seven months after being flown to Egypt in what was known as an "extraordinary rendition" operation. He was a resident in Italy at the time of his abduction.

Former CIA Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other American officials were convicted in their absence by the Milan appeals court for their part in the operation but are unlikely to serve their sentences.

Human rights groups have been fighting to expose heavy-handed tactics used by the CIA during the Bush administration.

Related:

Italian court convicts 3 Americans in CIA kidnapping