updated 5/14/2008 5:42:39 AM ET 2008-05-14T09:42:39

An Italian judge ruled Wednesday that Premier Silvio Berlusconi will be called to testify in the trial of 26 Americans and several Italians charged with kidnapping a terror suspect during a CIA operation.

Judge Oscar Magi approved the defense request as the case resumed. Magi also ruled that former Premier Romano Prodi will be called to testify.

Berlusconi, who has just been re-elected to another term, is considered a key witness because he was premier when Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr disappeared in February 2003.

Abducted from street
Italian prosecutors say Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was abducted on a Milan street as part of the CIA's program of extraordinary renditions — moving terror suspects from country to country without public legal proceedings.

The CIA has declined comment on the case.

Berlusconi's testimony had been requested by the lawyers of Nicolo Pollari, a former intelligence chief who is one of the defendants in the case.

Pollari hopes that the testimony might help prove that he was against the rendition, lawyers said. He could face from one to 10 years in jail if convicted.

Italian prosecutors say the cleric was transferred to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he was imprisoned for four years. Nasr, who was released last year, says he was tortured.

All but one American suspect in the case have been identified by prosecutors as CIA agents. They are being tried in absentia.

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