Closing the Loop: Sabrina De Sousa Pardoned for Role in CIA Torture and Rendition

Just a quick note to close the loop on the Sabrina De Sousa case, which I discussed in greater detail here.  On the day before she was to be extradited to Italy from Portugal, Italian President Sergio Mattarella partially pardoned De Sousa and reduced what was left of her seven-year sentence for kidnapping to a three-year sentence; the Prosecutor in Milan then revoked the extradition request to Portugal. Because of the reduction in sentence, De Sousa can petition to have her sentence served through means other than detention (e.g., community service). A European Union directive allows for the alternative sentence to be completed in Portugal, although she has indicated she might return to Italy to do her community service.

On February 28, 2017, an Italian Presidential Statement indicated that the pardon was appropriate given:

the attitude of the sentenced party, the fact that the United States has discontinued the practice of extraordinary renditions, and the need to weigh her penalty with that of others convicted of the same offence.

De Sousa was slated to be the only defendant to serve jail time for her involvement in the extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, a.k.a. Abu Omar (she did spend a little over a week in detention in Lisbon awaiting extradition). Sousa herself, and former Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra (Rep.) who has been serving as a spokesperson for De Sousa, indicated that the Trump Administration had intervened on her behalf, but the White House declined to comment. (Hoekstra chaired Trump’s Michigan campaign and used to be on the House Intelligence Committee, so he’s likely to be on a first-name basis with Flynn, Pompeo, et al.). The State Department indicated only that it welcomed the pardon.

President Donald Trump is slated to visit Italy in May 2017 for the G7 Summit.

Image: Getty

 

About the Author(s)

Beth Van Schaack

Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights, Stanford Law School; Former Deputy to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. State Department. All views are her own. Follow her on Twitter (@BethVanSchaack).