Ex-CIA Rome chief gets jail term in Abu Omar’s ‘rendition’ trial

MILAN ––An Italian appeals court on Friday sentenced a former CIA station chief to seven years in jail for the kidnap of an Egyptian Muslim cleric during the US government's "war on terror" waged by former president George W. Bush.

The Milan court also handed down two six-year sentences to two American officials for the same crime, the first of so-called "extraordinary rendition" operations organized by the United States.

The cleric, an Egyptian imam known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street 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.

Former Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and the two other defendants were tried in their absence and are unlikely to serve their sentences, but they may be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest.

The judgment overturned a previous ruling by a lower court, which aqcuitted the three on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Castelli was among 26 U.S. nationals indicted by Italian authorities for their involvement in the 2003 kidnap.

Last September Italy's highest court upheld guilty verdicts on 22 CIA agents and one Air Force pilot for the kidnapping.

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