An Italian judge has ruled that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could be called to testify in a trial of Italian and US spies in Milan.
The 26 Americans and seven Italians face charges of kidnapping a terrorism suspect in Milan in 2003 and flying him to Egypt.
Egyptian-born imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, claims he was tortured and held for years without charge before being released in 2007. He now faces an arrest warrant in Italy on suspicion of terrorism.
Berlusconi, who was prime minister at the time, is not accused of any crime but would appear as a witness.
Speaking from Egypt, Abu Omar said he was convinced Berlusconi knew about the case: “If the head of the Italian military intelligence services was involved, any decision he took required direct permission from the head of government,” he said.
Berlusconi denies knowledge of the affair and Washington says it will not hand over any of the US suspects, all of whom are being tried in absentia, even if Rome asks for their extradition.