January 26, 2007 / 7:24 PM / 12 years ago

Italian judge orders seizure of CIA agent's villa

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian magistrate has ordered the seizure of a villa owned by former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady, a key suspect in the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric, judicial sources said on Friday.

The seizure order for Lady’s villa in the Piedmont region of northern Italy was made at the request of prosecutors to guarantee eventual court costs and compensation for possible crimes.

Lady is one of 32 suspects, most believed to be CIA agents, accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street and sending him to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

An Italian judge heard arguments earlier this month on whether to indict the suspects and send them to trial. If they were tried it would be the first criminal procedure over renditions, one of the most controversial aspects of U.S. President George W. Bush’s global “war on terror”.

The lawyer who represented Lady at that hearing was not immediately available for comment.

She has previously said her client refuses to cooperate with the court proceedings because he believes the matter should be settled through a political, rather than judicial solution.

Any trial of the U.S. agents would almost certainly take place in absentia since Washington is not expected to hand them over.

The case has been adjourned until January 29.

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