By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press
ROME (AP) — In an act of clemency, Italy‘s president has shaved two years off the sentence of a former CIA base chief convicted in absentia in the 2003 extraordinary rendition abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect.
With the decree, announced Wednesday night by the presidential palace, President Sergio Mattarella reduced Robert Seldon Lady’s sentence to seven years from nine. Mattarella also wiped out the entire penalty — three years — faced by another American convicted in the case, Betnie Medero. The palace statement noted that “neither of the two is currently in Italy.”
They are among 26 Americans convicted in absentia in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street.
The palace said Italy’s head of state above all took into consideration President Barack Obama’s ending the practice of extraordinary renditions, which Italy and the European Union consider “incompatible with the fundamental principles of a State of law.”
Italian prosecutors’ requests for extradition failed to move the Italian Justice Ministry into taking action.
Extraordinary renditions were part of the anti-terror strategy under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In 2013, Mattarella’s predecessor also cited Obama’s decision to end extraordinary rendition when he pardoned a U.S. Air Force colonel, the only military defendant among the Americans in the case. Giorgio Napolitano said he pardoned Joseph Romano in hopes of resolving a situation “considered by the United States to be without precedent,…