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.
Afghanistan's highest court has ruled that the police officer convicted of murdering Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus should serve 20 years in prison
The country's ambassador to the United States told NBC on Sunday morning, Saudi Arabia is focussing on using air strikes.
Egypt lists 17 Brotherhood leaders including the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Mahdi Akef and the head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Saad al-Katatni, as 'terrorist' figures
According to Independent news, foreign students banned from British university science lessons on the gorunds that they might learn how to make nuclear and chemical weapons
Saudi Arabia accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy on Sunday, telling an Arab summit that he should not express support for the Middle East while fuelling instability by supporting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
The march headed towards the museum where a memorial for the victims of the attack will be inaugurated
Slovenian President Borut Pahor has said ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's official visit Monday, Slovenia supports Turkey's EU membership
Arab leaders said Saudi-led operation would continue until the Iranian-allied Houthis withdraw. They also announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya.
Collation of results continues and final results are not expected until Monday
Tens of thousands of Tunisians marched through the capital in a show of solidarity against museum attack on Sunday, hours after the government said its forces had killed nine members of a group suspected of carrying out this month's Bardo Museum attack.
According a port official, a Chinese warship approach the port of Aden to evacuate nationals.
An Israeli court has issued an order to demolish Palestinian village Susya and relocate its residents. The village was built even before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967.
At least 15 people wounded from anti-aircraft missiles shrapnel used by Houthis against warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition in Western Yemen
According to a Yemeni NGO Mwatana Organization for Human Rights (MOHR), at least 27 civilians – including 15 children – were killed in Yemen's Sanaa province.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has fired Ahmed Ali Saleh who is son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Tunisian security forces have killed a senior Algerian suspected who they accuse of helping orchestrate the Bardo museum attack which targeted foreign tourists, Tunisia's Prime Minister Habib Essid said on Sunday.