The former head of Italy’s military intelligence on Thursday told a court he had no role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect - allegedly as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program - but claimed he cannot prove his innocence because the evidence is classified.
Nicolo Pollari is among seven Italians and 26 Americans on trial in the case, the first trial in any country involving the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program.
“I am absolutely not involved” in the kidnapping, Pollari said, reading a prepared statement to the court. “But to defend myself as any citizen, I would have to refer to contents and documents that by law I cannot.”
All seven Italian suspects deny involvement and have declined to answer prosecutors’ questions relating to the kidnapping, citing a constitutional court order preventing them from revealing classified information.
The Italians appeared in court on Thursday, all but one making their first appearance in the two-year-old trial, while the American suspects are being tried in their absence.
Successive Italian governments have denied any involvement in the February 17, 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street.
Prosecutors say Nasr was transported in a van to a joint US-Italian base in northern Italy, flown to a US air base in Germany and onward to Egypt, where he said he was tortured.