Source AP ©

Italian court cleared seven North Africans of international terrorism charges

An Italian court cleared seven North Africans, including the imam of a Florence mosque, of international terrorism charges.

The court in the Tuscan city cleared the defendants of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationality  from accusations that they belonged to an Islamic extremist cell that planned to send potential suicide attackers to Iraq, said Antonino Filasto, a defense lawyer for three of the defendants.

The group was charged in 2005 with association with the aim of international terrorism a charge that was introduced here after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States to step up Italy's fight against suspected terrorists.

Five of them, including the imam, were arrested at the start of the probe but were later released pending trial, Filasto told The Associated Press by telephone. In closing remarks, the prosecution had asked for jail sentences for six in the group and one acquittal for insufficient evidence, he said.

Filasto said he did not know if prosecutors planned to appeal the ruling. Calls to the prosecutor's office were not answered Tuesday afternoon.