ROME – Italy’s highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, paving the way to possible extradition requests by Italian authorities.

The ruling by the Court of Cassation marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA’s practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.

The Americans were convicted in absentia after a 3½-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe, and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.

“It went very badly,” said lawyer Alessia Sorgato. “Now they will ask for extradition.”

Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro, one of Italy’s top anti-terrorism magistrates who shaped the prosecution, hailed the top court’s decision, saying it was tantamount to a finding that extraordinary rendition “is incompatible with democracy.”

The CIA declined to comment.