The first criminal trial over the US’ so-called ‘extraordinary rendition’ has started in Milan. 26 Americans, believed to be mostly CIA agents stand accused in their absence of kidnapping a terrorist suspect and transferring him to Egypt where he claims he was tortured. With them are seven Italian ex-secret service members, including the agency’s former director Nicolo Pollari.
But, at the request of the defence, the trial has been adjourned until the 18th of June. Pollari’s lawyer said that the trial would make public secret information and jeopardise US-Italian intelligence and the wider war on international terrorism. The Italian government has asked the constitutional court to rule on the legitimacy of the trial, fearing it would violate state secrets.
The suspect at the centre of the case is Abu Omar. The CIA suspected him of recruiting terrorists. Omar says he was bundled into a van in a Milan street and eventually taken to Egypt where he was imprisoned for four years and allegedly tortured. The trial comes just hours before a visit to Italy of President Bush.