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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Italy CIA kidnap trial adjourned
Italian judge Oscar Magi reads a statement
Judge Oscar Magi adjourned the trial until the end of October
A judge in Italy has adjourned the first criminal trial involving the "extraordinary rendition" of a terrorism suspect by the CIA.

Judge Oscar Magi said he wanted a higher court to decide whether prosecutors had broken state secrecy rules in pursuing the charges.

Twenty-six Americans and six Italians are accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from a Milan street in 2003.

Abu Omar was then sent to a prison in Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured.

The imam was suspected of recruiting fighters for Islamic fundamentalist groups at the time, but was not charged with any offence.

He was released by Egypt earlier this year.

Wiretaps

The Milan court's decision came after defence lawyers applied for an adjournment pending a ruling by the Constitutional Court on whether prosecutors had broken the law by using wiretaps on Italian agents.

There is no point in pursuing the trial because the case hinges on the decision by the Constitutional Court
Judge Oscar Magi

The prosecution said the wiretaps were justified because "facts which jeopardise the constitutional order cannot be covered by state secrecy laws".

Judge Magi agreed with the defence, however, and adjourned the trial until 24 October.

"There is no point in pursuing the trial because the case hinges on the decision by the Constitutional Court," he said.

The lawyer of the former head of Italian military intelligence, Gen Nicolo Pollari, who is one of the accused, said the decision was "dictated by common sense" and "legally right".

Abu Omar's lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, said the judge had made a balanced decision.

"The suspension is welcome so everything can be clarified," she said.

The Constitutional Court is due to rule on the appeal by September. The case is expected to be thrown out if it rules in favour of the defence.

The US has said the Americans accused of the kidnapping would not be sent to Italy even if the government made an extradition request.




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