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Judge: Berlusconi, Prodi can be witnesses

Judge: Berlusconi, Prodi can be witnesses
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during news conference on April 18, 2008. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

MILAN, Italy, May 14 (UPI) -- The judge in the trial of Italian officials and CIA agents charged with a 2003 kidnapping has ruled that two prime ministers can be called as witnesses.

Judge Oscar Magi granted a motion by lawyers for former Italian espionage chief Niccolo Pollari, the Italian news agency ANSA reported Wednesday. The lawyers want to call Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his predecessor, Romano Prodi, and their two foreign ministers, arguing they will testify that Pollari was not involved with the CIA kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr.

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Nasr, a Muslim cleric, was kidnapped in Milan in 2003 and flown first to Ramstein, Germany, and then to Egypt. He was freed in Egypt last year.

Nine Italian intelligence officials and 26 CIA agents are on trial, the CIA agents in absentia. The trial began in June 2007 and has proceeded at a glacial pace with long breaks.

The trial is believed to be the first judicial test of the U.S. policy of "extraordinary rendition," sending suspected terrorists to third countries where security forces are not barred from using torture.

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