Ital­ian mil­i­tant ar­rested 38 yrs after jail­break

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

BRASILIA: For­mer Ital­ian com­mu­nist mil­i­tant Ce­sare Bat­tisti, sought by Rome for four mur­ders in the 1970s, has been ar­rested after an in­ter­na­tional po­lice squad tracked him down on the run in Bo­livia where he faces quick ex­tra­di­tion to Italy. Italy has re­peat­edly sought the ex­tra­di­tion of Bat­tisti, who lived in Brazil for years un­der the pro­tec­tion of for­mer left­ist pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who is now in prison for cor­rup­tion.

Bat­tisti, 64, was ar­rested late Satur­day in the Bo­li­vian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Ital­ian in­te­rior min­istry sources con­firmed, where he gave up with­out a strug­gle after re­port­edly be­ing caught dis­guised in a false beard and mous­tache. “Ital­ian ter­ror­ist Ce­sare Bat­tisti was de­tained in Bo­livia (Satur­day night) and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will prob­a­bly be sent to Italy to serve a life sen­tence,” tweeted Filipe G Martins, a se­nior aide on in­ter­na­tional af­fairs to Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro.

Dur­ing Brazil’s re­cent pres­i­den­tial cam­paign the far­right Bol­sonaro - who took of­fice on Jan 1 - vowed that if elected he would “im­me­di­ately” ex­tra­dite Bat­tisti to Italy. In mid-De­cem­ber Brazil’s out­go­ing pres­i­dent, Michel Te­mer, signed an ex­tra­di­tion or­der for Bat­tisti

after a judge or­dered his ar­rest. By then the Ital­ian exmil­i­tant had dis­ap­peared and gone on the run. “Bat­tisti was ar­rested in the street, un­armed and he didn’t re­sist, re­sponded to po­lice in Por­tuguese and showed a Brazil­ian doc­u­ment con­firm­ing his iden­tity,” an Ital­ian in­te­rior min­istry source said. “Now Italy is wait­ing for him.”

Ital­ian state po­lice said the ar­rest had been car­ried out by a joint team of Ital­ian and Bo­li­vian of­fi­cers with the help of Italy’s counter-ter­ror­ism sec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment sources, Bat­tisti was spot­ted “with cer­tainty” in Santa Cruz last week and an op­er­a­tion was pre­pared with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. Ital­ian news­pa­per Cor­riere della Sera re­ported the fugi­tive, wear­ing a false beard and mous­tache, was snatched in the street by a spe­cial In­ter­pol squad.

An In­ter­pol team had tar­geted their search in Santa Cruz be­fore Christ­mas, clos­ing in on the Ital­ian fugi­tive in a few of the city’s neigh­bor­hoods, the paper said. Italy’s en­voy to Brazil fired off a tri­umphant tweet upon hear­ing the news. “Bat­tisti has been ar­rested! Democ­racy is stronger than ter­ror­ism!” am­bas­sador An­to­nio Bernar­dini wrote. Bat­tisti could be ex­pelled “within hours” from Bo­li­vian ter­ri­tory, a Bo­li­vian gov­ern­ment source told AFP, with­out giv­ing de­tails where he would be sent.

Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day dis­patched a plane car­ry­ing po­lice and se­cret ser­vice agents to Bo­livia, the in­te­rior min­istry said, in ap­par­ent prepa­ra­tion for a pos­si­ble ex­tra­di­tion. “Now it’s nec­es­sary to work out if Bat­tisti will make a stopover in Brazil or if he will be brought im­me­di­ately to Italy. This is a prob­lem that will be de­cided in the com­ing hours,” the Ital­ian in­te­rior min­istry source said. Ital­ian Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella ex­pressed yes­ter­day his sat­is­fac­tion at Bat­tisti’s ar­rest. “We hope Bat­tisti is swiftly handed over to Ital­ian jus­tice,” he said.

Italy’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini thanked the Ital­ian and for­eign po­lice who cap­tured “a delin­quent who did not de­serve the com­fort­able life on the beach, and who should spend out the rest of his days in prison”. Bol­sonaro’s son, Brazil­ian law­maker Ed­uardo Bol­sonaro, tweeted in Ital­ian with a pic­ture of Bat­tisti: “Brazil is no longer the land of ban­dits. Mat­teo Salvini, the ‘lit­tle gift’ is on its way.” Salvini, head of the rightwing League party which part­ners the 5-Star Move­ment in Italy’s rul­ing coali­tion, was one of the first top Euro­pean politi­cians to en­dorse Bol­sonaro’s elec­tion.

Bat­tisti es­caped from an Ital­ian prison after be­ing con­victed in 1979 of be­long­ing to an out­lawed left­ist group, the Armed Pro­le­tar­i­ans for Com­mu­nism. He was sub­se­quently con­victed in ab­sen­tia of hav­ing killed two Ital­ian po­lice­men, tak­ing part in the mur­der of a butcher, and help­ing plan the slay­ing of a jeweller who died in a shootout which left his 14-year-old son in a wheel­chair. Bat­tisti ad­mit­ted to be­ing part of the group but de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for any deaths. — AFP

SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA, Bo­livia: A hand­out pic­ture shows for­mer far-left Ital­ian mil­i­tant Ce­sare Bat­tisti after he was ar­rested late Satur­day. — AFP

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