Milan prosecutor to challenge acquittals of North Africans

A prosecutor said Tuesday she would challenge the acquittals of three North Africans on international terrorism charges in an appeal to Italy's highest criminal court. For months the case has been at the center of a debate over how this country fights terrorism, and has highlighted prosecutors' difficulties in winning convictions against terror suspects.

"I will certainly appeal, because I am certain the appeal is well founded," Milan Prosecutor Laura Bertole Viale said. In Italy, prosecutors can appeal verdicts. Bertole Viale said she would file her appeal to the Court of Cassation after she received the judges' written explanations for the earlier ruling.

An appeals court in Milan on Monday upheld the acquittals of the three, who were accused of recruiting suicide bombers for Iraq. Officially, they were charged with international terrorism, a charge introduced in Italy after Sept. 11, 2001.

It also acquitted one of the three, Moroccan Mohamed Daki, of the lesser charge he had been sentenced for in the first-level verdict, and convicted the other two of criminal association, ordering each to serve three years in prison.

The first-level sentence in January set off an outcry when Judge Clementina Forleo acquitted Daki and Tunisians Ali Ben Sassi Toumi and Bouyahia Maher of international terrorism charges, ruling their actions were those of guerillas, not terrorists.The appeals trial was closely watched. "The problem is that, once again, we are faced with the difficulty to prove the crime of terrorist association during trial," Stefano Dambruoso, who until last year was Milan's leading anti-terrorism prosecutor and was involved in the case, told Italian daily La Stampa, informs the AP. N.U.

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