Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar
Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano has pardoned, without presenting a justifiable reason, a US Air Force colonel, who has been convicted in absentia of the abduction and illegal imprisonment of an Egyptian Muslim cleric.
Napolitano’s office said in a statement on Friday that the president had granted the pardon “in hopes of giving a solution to a situation to an affair considered by the United States to be without precedent because of the aspect of convicting a US military officer of Nato for deeds committed on Italian soil.”
Napolitano said he had pardoned Joseph Romano because the US and Italy are close allies and share the ‘common goal of promoting democracy.’ This is while the move to pardon the US convict is believed to be unjustifiable in concrete terms.
Romano was one of the 23 Americans tried and sentenced by Italian courts over the operation to kidnap Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, in 2003.
Italian courts convicted 22 CIA personnel in the Abu Omar case. The CIA agents are believed to be living in the United States. They are unlikely to serve their sentences.
Romano was the only American convicted who was not a CIA employee.
Abu Omar, who was abducted in a joint operation by the CIA and the Italian military intelligence agency SISMI, enjoyed political asylum in Italy at the time.
He was allegedly taken to a US air base in northeastern Italy and then transferred to a US base in Germany and subsequently to Cairo.
Romano was the security chief of northern Italy’s Aviano airbase, where Abu Omar was taken to.
The Muslim cleric, who was released in 2007, says he was tortured in prison by his kidnappers.
- Italy Imprisons Military Intelligence Chief for Helping CIA Kidnap Egyptian Cleric (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Italy has borne fruit, with Rome agreeing to invest a total of 800 million euros ($1.04 billion) in Egypt, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday.
The report gave few details of how the sum will be invested.
Morsi met with his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano on Friday and made a joint declaration to boost bilateral relations and promote economic cooperation and trade between the two countries.
The Egyptian president also met on Thursday with leading Italian businessmen including Giorgio Squinzi, the president of business association Confindustria, as well as chief executives from ENI, ENEL and FS railways, according to local news agency ANSA.
In May, the Egyptian government signed an agreement with Italy to swap a third tranche of the North African country’s debts worth $100 million for Italian investments in Egypt.
Morsi has been on the hunt for foreign investment over the last few weeks.
During a presidential visit to China in late August, Asia’s largest economy agreed to give Egypt 450 million yuan (LE430 million) to finance infrastructure, electricity and environment projects, as well as donating 300 police cars.
The chairman of Egypt’s National Bank, Tareq Amer, and his Chinese counterpart also signed a deal for a $200 million concessional loan to support small and medium size projects in Egypt.
- Qatar to invest $18bn in Egypt over next 5 years (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Egyptian president heads to China for investment talks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Morsi: ‘New’ Egypt is open for business (morningstaronline.co.uk)