Later this month, a Milan court is due to return verdicts on 26 Americans, all but one of them CIA agents, accused of the extraordinary rendition of a radical Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. Armando Spataro, a public prosecutor who made his name with a series of big mafia trials in the Nineties, wants to send the 26 Americans down for between ten and 13 years. Because the agents are being tried in absentia, and the US won't extradite them, it is unlikely any of them will ever end up behind bars.
Nonetheless, a guilty verdict would still be of symbolic importance: a repudiation of the unchecked zeal with which the Bush administration chased its enemies in the aftermath of 9/11; a firm message that no intelligence agency is above the law, even in an allied country; and a significant victory for the independence of the Italian judiciary, which had been under government pressure not to pursue this case.
"Democracies are founded on principles that cannot be renounced even in moments of emergency," Spataro said last week. "If we gave up that vision we would have partly lost the fight against terrorism."
HOW TRUE. I just wish that our judiciary would have been as bold. 9/11 was a horrific incident but when democracies turn to RENDITION and TORTURE of suspects on evidence which is flimsy to say the least, I believe then that it legitimises acts of terror. For every cleric grabbed off the streets in a foreign country, a thousand are converted to the ways of terrorism.