Italy’s former spy chief sentenced to a decade in prison

13.02.2013 - 14:14

The former Italian intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari, was sentenced on 12 February to 10 years imprisonment for his involvement in a secret CIA rendition case.

In addition, the court in Milan gave former SISMI* deputy Marco Mancini nine years and sentenced three other staff members to six years in jail each.

The case concerned the abduction of a Muslim cleric from Milan to Egypt in 2003. Osama Mustafa Hassan, better known as Abu Omar, was kidnapped from Milan and flown to Egypt for interrogation as part of the „war on terror“taken up by former US President George W. Bush.

Hassan claimed to have been tortured for seven months and kept imprisoned for years before being released without charge. His lawyers sought 10 million euros in damages, but according to media in the country, the court awarded him a provisional 1 million euro ($1.35 million) in damages, as well as further 500,000 euro for his wife.

Initially, Pollari was acquitted when the first trial in 2009 ended with the conviction of 23 Americans - all but one of them CIA agents. However, last September, Italy's Court of Cassation upheld the guilty verdicts and ruled that Pollari and four other senior Italian secret service agents be tried again for their role in the extraordinary rendition.

Commenting the verdict, Amnesty international said that if there is a further appeal, the Italian judiciary should ‘make it crystal clear that when a person - intelligence agent or not - commits human rights violations, they cannot be covered up by government claims that disclosure would harm national security’.

*SISMI is Italy's military intelligence agency.