Feature

Italy: The U.S. makes its own justice

America has once again “smacked Italy in the face.”

Federico RampiniLa Repubblica

America has once again “smacked Italy in the face,” said Federico Rampini. Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, should have become the first U.S. official to face European justice over the illegal practice of extraordinary rendition. Lady orchestrated the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar from a Milan street, spiriting him from Italy to Egypt to be tortured and interrogated for four years. Lady and other CIA agents were sentenced in absentia to prison terms in Italy, and an international warrant was out for his arrest. But when he was caught in Panama two weeks ago, the U.S. government intervened and forced Panamanian authorities to release him rather than extradite him to Italy. It’s just the latest example in a long string of American affronts to Italian justice. In 1998, a reckless U.S. Marine pilot flying “insane aerial acrobatics” sliced a cable of a ski gondola in Italy, killing 20 people. He was rushed out of the country. In 2005, American soldiers opened fire at a checkpoint and killed an Italian agent who had just freed an Italian hostage in Iraq. Nothing happened to them, either. “These humiliations the U.S. inflicts on allies are not uncommon. Italy is used to it.”

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