World Bulletin / News Desk
Italy's highest court on Wednesday upheld guilty verdicts on 23 Americans for the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric, in the first criminal convictions for CIA "rendition" flights.
The Americans - 22 CIA agents and one Air Force pilot - who are believed to be in the United States and were tried in their absence - are unlikely to serve their sentences. But they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest.
Italy has never requested their extradition.
All of the Americans were sentenced to seven years' jail by a lower court except former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was handed a nine-year sentence. The decision was given to journalists by a court official.
Italy's highest appeals court, or Court of Cassation, also said five senior Italian secret service agents could be tried for the abduction, overturning a previous ruling barring a trial on the grounds it would reveal state secrets.
The five are the former head of Italy's Sismi military intelligence agency Nicolo Pollari, who resigned over the affair, his deputy and three others.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian imam known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. He was resident in Italy at the time of the abduction.
The Italian trial was the first of its kind against the "rendition" flights practiced by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, which have been condemned by human rights groups as a violation of international agreements.
Amnesty International welcomed the decision.
"We have one of the highest courts in a European country upholding convictions of CIA agents for really egregious human rights violations," the human rights group's Expert on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights Julia Hall said.
"Our hope is that the United States would... begin to cooperate with people who are trying to reveal the truth about what happened during the Bush era."
EUROPEAN ROLE IN SECRET CIA FLIGHTS
The ruling could strengthen efforts to shed light on the rendition programme, in which the CIA is alleged to have abducted people and flown them to countries where they could be tortured, a practice banned under international law.
Last week the European Parliament called on EU countries to fully investigate their role in any such programmes, and endorsed a report detailing evidence of secret prisons in Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
A Polish investigation into a suspected secret prison led to the arrest of the country's former chief of intelligence earlier this year.
In 2007 the European Parliament found at least 1,245 CIA flights were made into or over Europe in the four years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama has tried to distance himself from heavy handed intelligence tactics employed by the previous Bush administration, and ordered the CIA to close its long-term prisons in 2009.
Angelino Alfano, on a one-day visit to Tunis, met with his counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui and President Beji Caid Essebsi and promised closer relations between the two Mediterranean nations.
Turkey extends condolences to 'friend and ally' Italy
"It's true that during the period of the presidency of Mr. Obama our relations seriously worsened on all levels," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Obama's last full working day as US leader before Donald Trump is sworn in Friday.
Staffan de Mistura will lead the UN delegation to the meetings in the Kazakh capital of Astana that are due to begin on Monday.
May sought to reassure guests at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Brexit did not signal a retreat into protectionism, as a slew of banks revealed plans to relocate staff following her announcement on Tuesday that Britain would leave the single market.
Voicing deep concerns about the development, Stoltenberg said cyber defence will play a key role at the next NATO summit.
Rebels had escaped from Bihanga military training school after being given asylum in Uganda in 2013
Border towns show no resistance to troops, meant to force strongman president to step down peacefully after diplomacy failed
The head of Iraq's elite Counter-Terror Service, which has been doing most of the fighting in Mosul, as well as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Wednesday that the city's east bank had been "liberated".
Interstate Aviation Committee will analyze flight recorders of cargo plane that crashes Monday near Kyrgyz capital
Al-Qaeda linked militant group Al-Mourabitoun claims responsibility for attack on Malian military base
Mexican migrants are scrambling in an effort to reach the US before Trump takes over
The quakes, all measuring more than five magnitude, struck close to Amatrice, the mountain town devastated by an August earthquake that left nearly 300 people dead.
During his campaign, Trump said he would "bomb the shit" out of ISIL and claimed to have a secret plan to quickly defeat the group.
He had avoided home after a warning that Hamas security forces were looking for him due to his role as an organiser of recent protests over severe electricity shortages.
Jammeh's mandate ended at midnight (local and GMT) but he has steadfastly refused to leave office after losing elections last month to Adama Barrow