September 19th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Italy upholds convictions of Americans in kidnap case

The Italian Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans who were found guilty in absentia three years ago in connection with the 2003 kidnapping of a terror suspect in Milan.

The Americans, many of whom were thought to have worked for the United States' CIA, never appeared for trial and are not in Italian custody. The Italian government hasn't asked for their extradition.

The case centered on the "extraordinary rendition" of a Muslim cleric, Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, or Abu Omar. He was seized on the streets of Milan, Italy, in 2003, transferred to Egypt and tortured, he said. He was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and was under heavy surveillance by Italy's intelligence agency.

Prosecutors said he was nabbed by a CIA team working with Italian intelligence officials.

The trial was the first to deal with a practice that human rights groups call "extraordinary rendition." They say the United States has often sent suspects to countries that practice torture. Washington acknowledges making secret "rendition" transfers of terrorism suspects between countries but denies using torture or handing suspects over to countries that do.

A total of 22 Americans were each sentenced to five years in prison for their role in his abduction. Another - Robert Seldon Lady, whom prosecutors said was the CIA station chief in Milan - was sentenced to eight years in jail.

Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer told CNN in the past that the Italian military secret service had approved the operation involving Hassan, and CIA sources who refused to be named told CNN in 2005 that the agency had briefed and sought approval from its Italian counterpart for such an abduction.

The Italian government at the time - which was led by Silvio Berlusconi - vigorously denied having authorized Hassan's kidnapping, which it called illegal.

September 17th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Angry royals take Kate's topless photo battle to court

More topless photos of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, spilled into public view Monday as Britain's royal family planned to ask a French court to stop further publication of the pictures.

The legal battle raged while the duchess and her husband, Prince William, carried on with an official tour of the South Pacific, including meetings with Solomon Islanders - some of them topless.

The new photos were published Monday by the Italian gossip magazine Chi, which is owned by the same company that last week published several pictures of a topless Catherine sunbathing in private during a vacation at a private chateau belonging to William's uncle in Provence, in southern France.

The grainy images, shot from a distance, show Catherine on a balcony and appear to be no more revealing than those published last week by the French magazine Closer, the Guardian newspaper reported.

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Filed under: Diamond Jubilee • France • Italy • Kate Middleton • Prince William • Royal family • United Kingdom
September 7th, 2012
09:39 AM ET

Italy rescuers search for dozens feared missing from migrant boat

 Rescuers searched for dozens of people feared missing at sea when a boat carrying as many as 100 migrants ran into trouble overnight, Italian officials said Friday.

At least 56 people have been rescued so far - some from the sea and others from the small island of Lampione, said Filippo Marini, a coast guard commander. They are believed to be Tunisians, he said.

At least one body has been found, said Capt. Davide Miserandino of Italy's finance police, which is helping in the search.

Survivors picked up during the night reported that there were about 100 people on board, said Laura Boldrini, head of the U.N. refugee agency in Italy.

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Filed under: Italy • Rescues • Tunisia • World
Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat
Fiat shows the Lavazza espresso machine built and docked into a console in the new European model of the Fiat 500L.
July 16th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat

Drivers love fancy technology extras packed in their car and Fiat is hoping their latest innovation may be the best yet - one that can save you a trip to your favorite coffee store.

But the car designers new innovative addition to their latest line, due out in Italy in October, is landing them in some hot water with some consumers concerned about it adding to a mounting list of things that distract drivers. However, the car maker says, don't rush to judgement, you can't brew up a cup unless your car is stopped.

Their new crossover model the Fiat 500L boasts a whole range of accessories, but the one drawing the most attention and perhaps concerns, is their built-in espresso machine. That's right. Forget your Starbucks runs, or trying to rush out the door to work with your homemade brew.  Instead, inside your console you'll find a "new coffee machine created in collaboration with Lavazza," considered to be the Starbucks of Italy.

"The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that utilises the technology of the 'A Modo Mio' pods," the company said in a press release. "It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat."

A video put out by the automaker shows a cartoon character couple debating the choice of having to make a coffee run. But no longer!

"Do you want to take a break while flavouring the best Italian espresso coffee without stepping out of the car? With 500L even this will be possible!" the company touts on its Italian site. 

Passengers can brew on the road, filling the car with the sweet aroma of drink of the tired.

" It will be possible to enjoy ... inside a car the high quality, the unique taste, the body and creaminess of the true Italian espresso," the automaker boasts.

While it is certainly a first-of-its kind offering, the function has been met with a lot of criticism in the U.S. about concerns that drivers don't need another distraction while driving. Most of the focus of distracted driving campaigns have focused on texting, including a new set of public service announcement commercials from AT&T that show the fatal consequences of multitasking while driving.

So, when news of the coffee meets car collaboration hit the Web in the U.S., people on Twitter took the car company to task, noting that while we can't drive while texting in many places, it doesn't seem like a stellar idea to be making scorching hot coffee while taking your car to the road. It was unclear if those criticizing the idea knew the machine only worked while the car was stopped, a detail that was not touted on the car's site or in many media pieces criticizing the idea.

Even TV host Tom Bergeron weighed in on the idea, remarking that the innovative addition may be more dangerous than impressive.


And it prompted responses from others that wondered whether it would lead to lawsuits, similar to the infamous McDonald's scalding hot coffee debacle and concerns from auto blogs and writers about the safety of the innovation.


But the automaker wants to make a few things clear in the wake of the sudden uproar about the espresso machine's safety. They say they've done the testing and they are sure their setup is safe for drivers.

"You can use it only when the car is stopped," Norman Winkler, the communications press officer for Fiat in Europe told CNN. "It's quite tiny and it has a docking station in which it remains locked. The quantity of coffee is much (less) than usual use in the cups in the states. Its espresso, it's very tiny."

And it's not even clear whether those who are outraged in the U.S. will even have to deal with the issue. Jiyan Cadiz, the spokesman for Fiat in the U.S., said it was too soon to say what features might or might not show up in the American model.

"We have not provided any product details at this time," he told CNN. "As we get closer to our own launch of the vehicle we’ll provide feature availability and specs and more context between the Euro cousin and the U.S. model."

Italian cruise ship captain freed from house arrest
Francesco Schettino is escorted by an Italian policeman in Grosseto, Italy, on January 14, 2012.
July 5th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

Italian cruise ship captain freed from house arrest

Italian judges released the captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner from house arrest Thursday, but ordered him not to leave his home town while the case against him continues, his lawyer said.

Francesco Schettino has been under house arrest in his home town of Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, since January 17.

At least 30 people died when the cruise liner struck rocks and turned on its side off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Schettino faces allegations of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat, a prosecutor said this year. Giglio is a protected park.

Schettino's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, and six other officers both on the ship and from the firm Costa in Genoa are under investigation over allegations including manslaughter, shipwreck and failure to report the accident, the prosecutor in the case has said.

No one has been charged in connection with the shipwreck.

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Filed under: Italy
Italy PM: Maybe pro soccer should be suspended
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says soccer in his country may need to be suspended for two or three years.
May 29th, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Italy PM: Maybe pro soccer should be suspended

Italy might be better off without soccer for a few years in the wake of new arrests in a match-fixing probe in the top-flight Serie A, Prime Minister Mario Monti said Tuesday.

"Maybe soccer should be suspended for two or three years," Monti said, according to a report from Italy's ANSA news service. "It's not a government proposal, but it's a question we should ask ourselves."

Nineteen people were arrested Monday in the ongoing investigation by magistrates in Cremona. Eleven of those arrested are players in Italy's top division.

"It's particularly sad when a world-like sport, which should express noble values, shows itself to be a concentrate of the most reproachful ones, like unfairness, illegality and fraud," Monti said Tuesday in the ANSA report.


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Filed under: Crime • Gambling • Italy • Soccer • Sports
May 29th, 2012
05:12 AM ET

5.8 quake causes fatalities in Italy

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 hit north central Italy on Tuesday, civil protection authorities said, nine days after a major quake in the region left seven people dead.

Civil protection officials told CNN there were fatalities in Tuesday's quake, but they said they did not yet have a confirmed number of dead.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Italy • Natural Disasters
May 20th, 2012
01:01 AM ET

Quake kills 3, knocks down church bell in northern Italy

A strong earthquake struck early Sunday in northern Italy, killing at least three people and knocking down a church bell in the region, authorities said.

Two people were killed in a ceramic factory in Sant'Agostino di Ferrara, and one person died when a workshed collapsed in Ponte Rodoni di Bondeno, according to Elisabetta Maffani, spokeswoman for Italy's civil protection agency.

The 6.0-magnitude quake occurred just after 4 a.m. (10 p.m. ET Saturday), 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) outside Camposanto, northwest of Bologna, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Italian civil protection agency said it anticipates more injuries as rescue workers make their way to remote villages in the mountainous area.

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Filed under: Italy • World
April 17th, 2012
07:58 AM ET

Last 5 cruise ship bodies identified; 2 Americans named

The last five bodies recovered from the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner have been identified, the mayor's office in the Italian city of Grosseto said Tuesday.

Two Americans, Barbara Heil and Gerald Heil, were among those named in the statement from the mayor's office.

The others are identified as two Germans, Christina and Norbert Ganz, and an Italian crew member, Giuseppe Girolamo. Two people remain missing, the mayor's office said.

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Filed under: Italy
April 5th, 2012
04:38 AM ET

Indian authorities propose prisoner swap with Maoist rebels

Indian authorities offered to free 27 prisoners in return for the release of an Italian citizen and a local legislator held hostage by Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa.

The chief minister of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik, appealed in a statement Wednesday to the left-wing insurgents to release the Italian Paolo Bosusco and the state lawmaker Jhina Hikaka immediately, requesting they be "unharmed and in good health."

Bosusco and another Italian tourist, Claudio Colangelo, were abducted in the province's Kandhamal district on March 14. Colangelo was set free 11 days later, but Bosusco has remained captive.

The guerillas also kidnapped Hikaka, a member of the state's legislative assembly.

Patnaik specified that 23 prisoners would be freed to secure Hikaka's release and the other four for Bosusco's.

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Filed under: India • Italy
March 19th, 2012
02:08 AM ET

2 Italians abducted by Maoist rebels in eastern India

Two Italians have been kidnapped by Maoist insurgents in eastern India, the local authorities said Monday, in what is believed to be the first abduction of Westerners in the region.

Italian nationals Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo have been held hostage by left-wing rebels in the eastern state of Orissa since Wednesday, said Rajesh Prabhakar Patil, the top administrator of the state's Kandhamal district.

"As of now, the government has expressed its willingness to negotiate" to secure the Italians' release, Patil said, noting that the kidnappings came to light Sunday.

Anti-Maoist operations, part of a decades-long conflict, have been suspended in the troubled Kandhamal area, and the authorities are in the process of appointing a mediator for talks, he said.

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Filed under: India • Italy
February 15th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

Prosecutors seek jail time for Berlusconi

Italian prosecutors Wednesday asked a court to sentence former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in prison if he is found guilty of corruption charges.

Berlusconi is charged with bribing a British lawyer, David Mills, to secure favorable testimony in legal cases. Prosecutors requested prison time as they summed up their case against him Wednesday, and the three-judge court is expected to issue a verdict by late February.

The former premier's lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations in the case has expired, and Mills' conviction in the case was overturned in 2010. And even if convicted, the 75-year-old Berlusconi may never serve time due to appeals and his age - under Italian law, judges can suspend sentences for convicts over 70.

The 75-year-old Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for a decade and a half before resigning amid a financial crisis in November. He has survived a series of political, corruption and sex scandals over the years, involving allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and bribery.

In addition to the Mills case, he also faces trial on charges that he hired an underage prostitute and later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft.

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Filed under: Italy • Silvio Berlusconi
Italy prosecutors appeal decision to overturn Knox conviction
Amanda Knox thanks her supporters in Seattle, Washington after returning to the U.S. after her murder conviction in Italy was overturned.
February 14th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

Italy prosecutors appeal decision to overturn Knox conviction

Prosecutors in Italy lodged an appeal Tuesday against the acquittal of American student Amanda Knox in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

A secretary for prosecutor Giuliano Mignini confirmed to CNN that the appeal had been filed, but said Mignini was not immediately available for comment.

Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of murder in 2009 but cleared when they appealed the verdicts in October.

In legal paperwork published in December, the judge in the case wrote that the jury had cleared the pair for lack of evidence proving they were guilty.

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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Italy
Italian cruise ship captain must remain under house arrest, judge rules
The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner Francesco Schettino is escorted by an Italian policeman in Grosseto on January 14.
February 7th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Italian cruise ship captain must remain under house arrest, judge rules

The Italian captain of the shipwrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia must remain under house arrest while investigators look into possible charges against him, a court in Florence, Italy, ruled Tuesday, a defense lawyer said.

The court rejected a prosecution motion that Francesco Schettino be sent back to jail as well as a defense motion that he be set free, according to lawyer Alessandro Antichi.

Schettino was "satisfied" that the court rejected the prosecution's request to send him back to jail, Antichi said. Attorneys will likely wait until February 9, when the full text of the court's decision is published, to decide whether to appeal, Antichi said.

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Filed under: Italy
Hearing set for Italian cruise ship captain under house arrest
Francesco Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.
February 6th, 2012
05:18 AM ET

Hearing set for Italian cruise ship captain under house arrest

A closed-door hearing to determine whether the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship should remain under house arrest is set for Monday.

Francesco Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship after the vessel struck rocks and rolled onto its side in the waters off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Sixteen bodies have been recovered, and 16 people remain missing from the roughly 4,200 people who were aboard the cruise liner.

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Filed under: Italy • Justice • World
Experts advise ending Concordia underwater salvage
Technicians work Friday near the wrecked ship Costa Concordia in front of Giglio island.
January 31st, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Experts advise ending Concordia underwater salvage

Technical experts directing the salvage operation aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship are recommending that the underwater part of the operation be called off because it is becoming too dangerous, Italy's civil protection agency said Tuesday.

The head of the operation, Franco Gabrielli, will make the final decision, but is unlikely to go against the recommendations of the technical experts, his office said.

The advice is based on safety concerns and follows consultations with relatives of the people still missing from the shipwreck and diplomats representing their countries, the civil protection agency said.

A total of 15 people remain missing after the cruise ship's collision with rocks off the coast of Tuscany on January 13. Seventeen bodies have been recovered. There were about 4,200 people on the cruise liner when it crashed.

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Filed under: Italy • Travel • World
Concordia cruise passengers to get $14,400
The Costa Concordia struck rocks and rolled over on January 13.
January 27th, 2012
05:12 AM ET

Concordia cruise passengers to get $14,400

Passengers of the Costa Concordia are expected to receive a compensation lump sum of 11,000 euros ($14,400) each, the Italian Association of Tour Operators said in a statement Friday.

The decision was reached during a meeting between Costa Cruises and consumer groups, the association said.

The massive liner struck rocks and rolled over onto its side in shallow waters off an island on Italy's Tuscan coast on January 13, leading to a panicked overnight evacuation and a number of deaths.

A 16th body was found by divers searching the ship Tuesday. Sixteen others are missing from the roughly 4,200 people aboard the cruise liner - 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members - at the time of the collision.

The captain of the ill-fated cruise ship is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
January 24th, 2012
09:17 AM ET

Costa Concordia rescuers find 16th body

Rescuers searching the stricken Costa Concordia found a body on bridge 3 Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed dead from the wreck to 16, civil protection officials said.

The discovery leaves about 16 people still missing from among the roughly 4,200 aboard the cruise liner - about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members - at the time of the collision with rocks off the island of Giglio.

The vast majority fled the ship safely, if under chaotic and frightening conditions, according to survivors.

Undersea salvage experts will not start siphoning fuel off the partially sunken liner before Saturday, the man in charge of the operation said Tuesday.

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Filed under: Italy • World
Rescuers halt search as Italy cruise ship moves
The Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, Italy, on Thursday.
January 20th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Rescuers halt search as Italy cruise ship moves

Rescue workers have suspended their search of the Costa Concordia after the cruise ship moved, making it too risky for divers to operate, the Italian Coast Guard said Friday.

Sensors on board the vessel measured movement, Massimo Maccheroni, of the Coast Guard general command, told CNN.

"When this happens all rescue forces have to leave the ship, (so as) not to put their lives in danger," he said.

The authorities are now assessing their options. One possibility being considered is an attempt to anchor the vessel to the rocks off Giglio island using chains.

But, warned Maccheroni, "It's very difficult. The Concordia weighs 110,000 tons and it's like a 300 meter-high skyscraper in an horizontal position."

Italian authorities are considering when to call off the search for survivors and start the recovery operation, which would mean salvage workers can start emptying the ship's huge fuel tanks.
At least 11 people are known to have died in the disaster, and 21 are still missing, according to the Italian Crisis Unit.
A week after the ship ran aground off the Tuscan coast

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
January 19th, 2012
12:04 PM ET

Decision looms on ending Concordia rescue operations

Italian authorities are considering when to call off the search for survivors aboard the wreck of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, the coast guard said Thursday, as rescuers used explosives to blow new holes in the ship in search of victims.

Authorities are considering when to change the operation from rescue to recovery, coast guard spokesman Cosimo Nicastro said Thursday.

At least 11 people are known to have died in the disaster, and 21 are still missing, according to the Italian Crisis Unit.

Coast guard records published Thursday by an Italian newspaper pile further pressure on the captain of the Concordia and his officers, suggesting that the authorities first became aware of the crash from a friend of the mother of a passenger about 15 minutes after the ship hit rocks.

The coast guard identified the ship in trouble and contacted it, asking if there were problems on board, at 10:14 p.m. - more than half an hour after the 9:41 p.m. collision - according to a coast guard log published in the newspaper La Repubblica.

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Filed under: Italy • Travel • World
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