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.
Nasrallah was speaking at an event to commemorate the deaths of six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general killed by an Israeli air strike in Syria on Jan. 18.
ISIL also lost 102 military vehicles and 16 tanks.
Analysts say Pakistan army chief travelled to Beijing to show US it has other regional allies
South Sudanese leader has accused IGAD of "taking custody" of the country.
A vehicle carrying two U.S. citizens came under fire in the Eastern Province district of al-Ahsa, one of the main centres of Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ites. It was not clear who shot at the vehicle.
Education minister warns against using textbooks that undermine communism
Ahtem Ciygoz was taken into custody on Thursday by the Russian Federal Investigative Committee.
Commander of Iran's elite revolutionary guard meets leader of Hezbollah
Six bodies were found washed ashore on Morocco's Boukana beach, close to a Spanish enclave that is a regular destination for migrants earlier on Friday.
Greece "absolutely against" Eldorado-run mine - energy minister and says that there will be "no way" government will privatise gas utility DEPA. To await EU decision before deciding future of gas grid operator (Adds comments on revoking law over PPC, details, context)
AU commissioner for peace and security Ismail Chergui said that the AU will approve deployment of 7,500 African Union troops to fight Boko Haram in Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The student union leader was kidnapped from outside his home and taken to an unknown location.
French Muslims freedom is now being curbed in the name of combatting terrorism with the French government unveiling a new video to deter would be fighters with ISIL
Computer and cellphone buyers in Xianjiang region must register with police, with security camera footage to be kept for at least 30 days.
The perpetrators of the Srebrenica genocide have lost their appeals at UN's appeals chamber in The Hague which has confirmed life jail terms for Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara.
Three simultaneous bombings targeted military and security sites in the city of Aish.