Chimpy may be a bit uncomfortable in Italy tomorrow.
The first trial involving the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program opens Friday in the absence of all 26 American defendants accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terrorist suspect.
The trial, which has been an irritant in the historically robust U.S.-Italy relationship and coincides with the arrival in Rome of President Bush, was expected to ground to a halt before taking off.
The government has asked Italy’s highest court to throw out indictments against 26 Americans — all but one of them believed to be CIA agents — accused of abducting Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.
Italian prosecutors say Nasr — suspected of recruiting fighters for radical Islamic causes but who had not been charged with any crime at the time of his disappearance — was taken to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany before being transferred to Egypt, where he was imprisoned for four years. Nasr, who was released Feb. 11, said he was tortured.
The trial’s opening comes as Bush arrives for meetings Saturday with the pope and Italy’s premier and president.
Relations between Rome and Washington also have been strained by the trial of a U.S. soldier accused of killing an Italian intelligence officer in Baghdad in 2005 as well as Italy’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq and reluctance to send additional soldiers to Afghanistan.