Nasr and Ghali v. Italy

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Extraterritorial Jurisdiction | Refugees and Migrants | Reparations | Burden of Proof | Deprivation of Liberty | Obligation to Prevent | Evidence

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Persons and Groups Affected | Prevention | Related Crimes

The Court was satisfied that Italian authorities were aware of the fact that the victim was being subjected to extraordinary rendition by the United States secret services, and reaffirmed that a State is responsible for violations committed on its territory by agents of another State acting under its approval. The Court found a procedural violation of the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment with respect to the victim, due to the fact that the State secured impunity for those responsible by invoking the "state secrets" privilege. It also made a substantive finding of torture and inhuman treatment of the victim, arguing that, by allowing United States security services to subject the victim to extraordinary rendition on Italian territory, the authorities knowingly exposed him to a real risk of being subjected to torture, especially in light of his refugee status. The Court also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim's wife, in light of the anguish and uncertainty following the victim's disappearance and of the fact that she did not receive any news on his whereabouts for a long time. The Court further found a violation of the victim's right to liberty and security covering both his abduction and his subsequent detention, as well as a violation of the right to respect for private and family life in relation to both the victim and his wife.

Judgment Date

February 23, 2016



Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 8 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 6 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

In February 2003 Mr. Osama Mustafa Nasr, an Egyptian imam suspected of terrorist activities who had obtained refugee status in Italy, was stopped in the street by a man in plain clothes who identified himself as a policeman. As the man was checking his identity documents, Mr. Nasr was abducted by a group of men who beat him, blindfolded and handcuffed him, and drove him away to the air base of the United States Air Force in Europe. Mr. Nasr was first put on a plane in the direction of Germany, and then to another plane which landed in Egypt. When he landed in Egypt, he was driven to the Intelligence Service premises, interrogated and then detained. During his detention, Mr. Nasr was subjected to various forms of torture and violence, and often pressured to provide information and to declare that he had voluntarily returned to Egypt. Mr. Nasr was released from his secret detention in April 2004. A few weeks later, he was arrested by the Egyptian police and subjected to administrative detention based on anti-terrorism legislation until February 2007. The Egyptian authorities never replied to requests of information on Mr. Nasr's whereabouts filed by Italian authorities in the context of an inquiry opened in Italy soon after his abduction. In 2009, Italian authorities found a number of members of the Italian and United States security services responsible for Mr. Nasr's abduction. However, the convictions were revoked in 2014 by the Italian Court of Cassation following an "state secret"s privilege filing by the Italian government.

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