AVIANO, Italy — The fate of thousands of dollars worth of Army and Air Force Exchange Services merchandise stored at a warehouse in Aviano is in limbo until an Italian judge returns to the bench.

Roberto Russi, a lawyer representing former base employee Mauro Martin, said Tuesday he is waiting for approval to seize and sell the merchandise to settle Martin’s 22,000 euro claim against the U.S. government.

But the judge hearing the case won’t be back in his courtroom in Pordenone until at least the end of the month.

Martin worked at the base from 1975 to 1991 and was owed money after his employment ended. He alleges the U.S. illegally paid off his debts to a creditor instead of giving him the money. Three Italian court decisions have supported his claims.

The AAFES warehouse was targeted because it is located off Aviano Air Base and more accessible to the public. AAFES has referred comment to the base. Base officials have said the matter is being handled by the Department of Justice.

Charles Miller, a DOJ spokesman, said in an e-mail Friday that there was no information the department could “provide at this time.”

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