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Colonel gets pardon from Italy's president

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

ROME — Italy's president on Friday pardoned a U.S. Air Force colonel convicted in absentia by Italian courts in the CIA-conducted abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street in a move he hoped would keep American-Italian relations strong, especially on security matters.

President Giorgio Napolitano's office said the head of state 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 U.S. military officer of NATO for deeds committed on Italian soil.”

Joseph Romano was security chief of northern Italy's Aviano air base where the abducted Egyptian Muslim cleric was taken before being flown out of the country and eventually to Egypt. He was one of 23 Americans convicted in absentia in the case and whose convictions were upheld last year by Italy's highest criminal court. Three other Americans had been acquitted in a first trial because of diplomatic immunity, but earlier this year, a Milan appeals court convicted the three, who included a former CIA station chief.

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