Italian government split on CIA case

Feb. 20, 2007 at 4:03 PM

ROME, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Charges against 26 U.S. spy agency personnel and six Italian intelligence officers involved in an alleged kidnapping have split the Italian government.

The Italian government has sued magistrates in Milan who opened the case, claiming that they have put intelligence officers at risk and overstepped their authority, ANSA reports. If the Constitutional Court rules against the magistrates, the criminal case could be derailed.

The case involves Abu Omar, a Muslim imam who was kidnapped in Milan four years ago and sent to Egypt, which recently released him. The imam faces terrorism charges if he returns to Italy.

Italian Transport Minister Antonio Di Pietro, who backs the Milan magistrates and the Italian Magistrates Union, has accused his colleagues of protecting intelligence agents who acted "like a Sardinian kidnap gang." He wants the government to request extradition of the U.S. CIA agents.

Justice Minister Clemente Mastella says that Di Pietro should mind his own business.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi has suggested that extradition is unlikely.

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