THE CIA ON TRIAL IN ITALY

Trial in Italy challenging CIA extraordinary renditions opens as Bush arrives in Rome
By: COLLEEN BARRY
Associated Press

MILAN, Italy -- The first trial involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition program opened in Italy on Friday without the presence of any of the 26 American defendants -- a case that threatens to expose the workings of the U.S. and Italian intelligence agencies.

Highlighting the strain the trial has placed on U.S.-Italian relations, it began on the same day President Bush arrived in Rome for meetings with the pope, Italy's premier and president.

After ruling on several motions, the judge postponed the trial until June 18 so he could consider a defense request to suspend the proceedings until Italy's Constitutional Court rules on matters related to the case later this year.

The Italian government has asked the country's highest court to throw out the indictments against the Americans -- all but one of them believed to be CIA agents -- who are accused of abducting Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

The government is concerned that a trial might embarrass Italy's intelligence community over the handling of a highly secret operation by publicly airing details about the U.S. program of extraordinary rendition. The program moves terrorism suspects from country to country without public legal proceedings. ...

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