Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Supreme Court Judgment

Italy's Supreme Court has confirmed the convictions of dozens of US and Italian officials who were tried, in Milan in 2009, for the abduction and rendition of Abu Omar, a Muslim cleric, shortly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The victim was kidnapped in the street in broad daylight, bundled into a van, taken to Aviano airforce base where he was brutalised, then rendered to Egypt where he was tortured in various disgusting ways.

Twenty-three US officials were convicted, the most high-profile being former CIA officers Robert Seldon Lady and Sabrina de Sousa, as well as Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Romano. Lady was given the heaviest sentence of nine years imprisonment, while de Sousa, Romano, and the other Americans—Monica Adler, Gregory Asherleigh, Lorenza Carrera, Drew Channing, John Duffin, Vincent Faldo, Raymond Harbaough, James Harbison, Ben Amar Harty, Cynthia Logan, George Purvis, Pilar Rueda, Joseph Sofin, Michalis Vasiluou, Eliana Castaldo, Victor Castellano, John Gurley, Brenda Ibanez, Anne Lidia Jenkins, and James Kirkland—got seven years. The agents' terms were lengthened from 5-8 years to 7-9 years in December 2010.

 The  court found three US officials not guilty because they had diplomatic immunity: the CIA’s former Rome station chief Jeff Castelli ( the abduction and rendition was his “brainchild”) the former first secretary at the US embassy in Rome Ralph Russomando, and former second secretary Betnie Medero.

Some agents of the Italian military intelligence service SISMI were not convicted. The officials, including the former head of SISMI Nicolo Pollari, had evidence against them suppressed on the grounds of state secrecy.  Their retrial was ordered.  More junior officers had their convictions confirmed.

The CIA agents were tried in contumacia. Their defence lawyers argued that they were not guilty as they were only obeying orders.

Should they be found in Europe again they will be arrested under European Arrest Warrants that have been issued for them all. The convicted have been ordered to pay over a million euros of damages to the victim of the extraordinary rendition. Properties in Italy of those convicted have been ordered to be confiscated.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

" Properties in Italy of those convicted have been ordered to be confiscated. "

Does this not seem rather dangerous?

These people are convicted criminals, sure, but there is not, afaik, and suggestion that they came by their property by other than legal means.

Where will this end? Commit some minor criminal offence and you lose everything you own to the state? Who thinks this is right, I certainly don't. The fact that it may be legal doesn't justify it.

hatfield girl said...

Some crimes seem to attract property confiscation in Italy, Yacht. Mafia-type, and criminal gang crimes usually result in confiscation of property after conviction.

These were serious crimes and the accused were in contumacia (using the Italian word as it's difficult to exactly translate terms from different legal systems.)

They're now fugitives from justice (latitanti) and are condemned to pay substantial damages as well as 7 years each (9 for the Milan former CIA chief).

As you know, there is a lot of back story to all this.

Elby the Beserk said...

"contumacia" is very precise, is it not?

(esp. of a defendant's behavior) Stubbornly or willfully disobedient to authority."

and it is a fine word.

Elby the Beserk said...

HG. Entirely OTT - you were mentioning that you struggled with American novelists. What about Canadians? I have no idea why but I suddenly found myself wondering whether you had read Robertson Davies?

It's a while since I read him, but I haver re-read both his famous trilogies, The Deptford Trilogy and The Cornish Trilogy. I found them wonderfully written and engagingly off kilter. Indeed, I have just reminded myself to re-read them.

As I say - a passing thought.

hatfield girl said...

Oh YES Elby. I have read them all, more than once (deck chairs, not the Titanic for once, summer afternoons) campari in hand.

Off kilter is just right. Think of the doctor who diagnosed by smelling his patients, and the description of the reaction to his technique by, reserved shall we say? ladies.

He never uses the novels as an excuse to moralise or philosophise - just gets on with the story as a novelist should. (Wonder if I should duck after saying the last).

On the specialised use of words in professional circumstances that have also everyday meanings, I'm always chary of translating them.

Elby the Beserk said...

Time to revisit them, I think. Which makes me smile. They are hugely *human* books, and really very fine!

Now - I am unable to find any mention of this in the mainstream UK newspapers indeed, only the "Muslim News" and Amnesty seem to be aware of it.