Italian jail awaiting leftist terrorist Battisti after Bolivia arrest






Rome - Cesare Battisti, a far-left militant who has been on the run for nearly 40 years, is being repatriated to serve a life sentence for murder, the Italian government said Sunday, hours after the man's arrest in Bolivia.

Battisti, 64, was a member of Italian terrorist group Armed Proletarians for Communism. Arrested in 1979, he evaded prison in 1981 and, between 1990 and 1993, was convicted in absentia of four political killings committed in the 1970s.



 
"Cesare Battisti will return to Italy in the coming hours," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote on Facebook. "We are happy about this result which our country has been waiting for too many years."
According to the ANSA news agency, Battisti is likely to arrive in Rome on Monday afternoon.
Italian Interior Ministry sources said Italian and Brazilian police located Battisti in Bolivia a week ago, and caught him overnight in the town of Santa Cruz. He was unarmed, did not resist the arrest, and showed officers a Brazilian document confirming his identity.
"Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti was captured tonight in Bolivia," Felipe Martins, special adviser for international affairs to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, wrote on Twitter late on Saturday.
Before Bolivia, Battisti spent time in Brazil, France and Mexico. He became a fugitive from Brazilian justice in December, after judges ordered his arrest and newly-elected President Bolsonaro said he was going to extradite him as a "little gift" to Italy.
After the arrest, the Italian government sent a plane to Bolivia to immediately fetch the fugitive, but for several hours it was unclear whether he would have had to be returned to Brazil before his final extradition to Italy.
Bolsonaro, a right-winger, was keen to see the back of Battisti.
He has accused his left-wing predecessors Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Roussef of shielding the terrorist from justice. Lula turned down an extradition request from Italy in 2010, and Brazil's supreme court confirmed the decision in 2011.
Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, who is a lawmaker in the Chamber of Deputies, wrote on Twitter, addressing Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini: "Brazil is no longer the land of outlaws. @matteosalvinimi, the 'little gift' is on his way."
"A heartfelt thanks to President Jair Bolsonaro," Salvini, a fellow right-winger, replied on Facebook, calling Battisti "a criminal who does not deserve a comfortable life at the beach, but to end his days in jail."
Italian police released a video of the fugitive walking down a street, sporting sunglasses and a goatee beard, shortly before his arrest. There was no sign of a fake beard, as reported by Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Battisti was not a prominent figure during Italy's so-called Years of Lead, a period which lasted from the late 1960s to the late 1980s during which hundreds of people were killed by left- and right-wing terrorists.
But his perceived arrogance and unwillingness to face justice has made him a hate figure among Italian public opinion. In the 1990s, while on the run in France, he started a career as a crime novelist, and counted many local left-wing intellectuals among his friends.
Battisti has maintained his innocence over murder charges, while he has admitted the crime of political subversion. He has said that his prison escape in 1981 was motived by fear of being tortured or killed while in custody.

 


Sunday, January 13th 2019
By Alvise Armellini and Chiara Palazzo,
           


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