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Milan Judge Frees Former Guantanamo Inmate

MILAN (AP) - A judge on Monday ordered that a Tunisian convicted of criminal association with the aim of terrorism must be freed from jail, citing time served at Guantanamo.

Adel Ben Mabrouk and another Guantanamo inmate were transferred to Italy in November 2009 as part of the U.S. administration's bid to shut down the prison.

Mabrouk's defense lawyer, Giuseppina Regina, said she and prosecutors made a joint appeal to the judge to take into consideration the eight years Mabrouk spent in Guantanamo in "inhumane conditions," plus a year and a half in Italian prison.

"Both the defense and the prosecution asked the judge to take into account his illegal and inhumane detention at Guantanamo," Regina said.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro said he appealed for a lighter sentence based on Mabrouk's detention at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which under Italian law is illegal, and the fact that the crimes of which he was accused occurred more than a decade ago.

The judge convicted Mabrouk of terrorist association and sentenced him to a two-year suspended sentence. He legally must be freed by midnight, but Regina said Mabrouk has no passport, and his plans were yet unknown.

Political upheaval in his native Tunisia, where protests continue weeks after the autocratic president fled into exile, makes his future even more unclear, his lawyer said.

"The news from Tunisia is confused. We need to see what news he has from his family. He is a man, in any case, who has been worn out by his experience," Regina said.

Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri, a Tunisian national who arrived from Guantanamo with Moubrik, last week was sentenced to six years after being convicted of criminal association with the aim of terrorism. Nasri's attorney said he will appeal.

Prosecutors believe Nasri was a member of a terror group with ties to al-Qaida that recruited fighters for Afghanistan. They said he frequented an Islamic center in Milan in the 1990s which a U.S. Treasury report at the time labeled "the main al-Qaida station house in Europe."

Italian prosecutors said at the time of Nasri's transfer that they believed the Tunisian man traveled from Italy to Afghanistan, where he was captured.

Mabrouk lived in Italy before traveling to Afghanistan in early 2001, according to a transcript of his hearing before the U.S. government panel that reviewed his case. U.S. authorities alleged he had links to al-Qaida and trained at one of its camps. The United States also alleged he had previously associated with extremists in Bosnia and had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Tunisia for being a member of a terrorist organization.

Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant in 2005 accusing him of international terrorism, falsification of documents, aiding illegal immigration, theft and truck trafficking.

He was captured on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by Pakistani forces and turned over to the United States at the end of 2001. The Italian courts have certification that he was in custody in Guantanamo in February 2002, Spataro said.

He told the U.S. military panel he only went to Afghanistan as an immigrant and did receive some weapons training, but denied ever having been in Bosnia or knowing about any prison sentence in Tunisia, according to U.S. military documents.

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