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Italian Lawyer in CIA Case Withdraws

All but one of the Americans have been identified by the prosecution as CIA agents, including former station chiefs in Rome and Milan; the other is a U.S. Air Force officer who was stationed at the time at Aviano air base near Venice. The Italians include the former head of the Italian military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari.

In Italy, defendants are not required to attend preliminary hearings, or even trials. Spataro has asked Premier Romano Prodi's center-left government to seek the extradition of the American suspects, but there has been no response.

The previous prime minister, conservative Silvio Berlusconi, who was a close ally of President Bush, refused.

Pollari's defense lawyers said Tuesday they intend in the next session to try to have both Prodi and Berlusconi take the witness stand, as well as their respective defense ministers.

Even if a request is made for the Americans' extradition _ a move bound to irritate U.S.-Italian relations _ it was unlikely that the CIA agents would be turned over for trial abroad.

The CIA has refused to comment on the case.


Associated Press Writer Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

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