Prison sentences for Italian intelligence officials in Abu Omar kidnap case - response

A Milan Appeals Court has ruled that two former top Italian intelligence officials and three Italian agents were involved in the kidnapping of an Egyptian national Abu Omar.

The two senior officials were sentenced to ten and nine years’ imprisonment, while the three other agents were each sentenced to six years. They were also made to pay collective damages of one million euros to Abu Omar and 500,000 euros to his wife.

Abu Omar, was living in Italy when he was grabbed from a street in Milan in February 2003 and subsequently unlawfully transferred by the CIA from Italy to Egypt, where he was held in secret and allegedly tortured. His kidnapping in Italy was the beginning of an enforced disappearance.

Earlier this month (1 February) the same court in Milan had found three former US CIA officials guilty of Abu Omar’s kidnapping.

Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights Julia Hall said:

“State secrets should never be invoked to shield governments, including their intelligence officials, from accountability for such serious human rights violations.
“If there is a further appeal, the Italian judiciary should make it crystal clear that when a person - intelligence agent or not - commits human rights violations, they cannot be covered up by government claims that disclosure would harm national security.

“In Abu Omar’s case, his kidnapping and subsequent rendition and enforced disappearance were crimes, not national security secrets, and those responsible should be brought to justice.”

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