European court censures Italy over CIA 'abduction'

File photo of Egyptian imam Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr, also known as Abu Omar Image copyright AP
Image caption Abu Omar said that he was tortured after being transferred to Egypt

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Italy for what it says was the "abduction" of an Egyptian imam by the CIA from a Milan street in 2003.

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized under the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" programme.

He was flown to Egypt for interrogation where he says he was tortured.

The court found that Italy had been guilty of several human rights violations in the case.

In 2009, Italy convicted 23 Americans and two Italians over the kidnapping. All the Americans were tried in absentia.

However, the court found that the principle of state secrecy "had clearly been applied by the Italian executive in order to ensure that those responsible did not have to answer for their actions".

Italy fined

"The investigation and trial had not led to the punishment of those responsible, who had therefore ultimately been granted impunity," it continued.

The court ordered Italy to pay a total of €115,000 (£90,000; $127,000) in damages and expenses to Abu Omar and his wife Nabila Ghali.

At the time of his abduction Abu Omar had been granted political asylum in Italy.

After being taken from Milan to Egypt, via US air bases in Italy and Germany, he was held for four years without a trial before being released.

In December 2013, Abu Omar was himself convicted in absentia of "criminal association for the purposes of international terrorism" by a court in Milan and sentenced to six years in prison.

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