A ‘lit­tle gift’: Brazil sends fugi­tive to Italy

A left-wing mil­i­tant has been cap­tured three decades after a mur­der con­vic­tion

The New Zealand Herald - - World Briefing - Josephine McKenna

A left-wing Ital­ian mil­i­tant who spent decades on the run after be­ing con­victed of four mur­ders com­mit­ted in the 1970s was cap­tured in Bo­livia and ex­tra­dited to Italy as a “lit­tle gift” from Brazil’s far-right Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro to the pop­ulist In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini.

Ce­sare Bat­tisti, who lived openly for years in Brazil, was ar­rested on Sun­day by lo­cal po­lice and an In­ter­pol team as he was walk­ing alone through the Bo­li­vian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports he was un­armed and put up no re­sis­tance.

He fled Brazil in De­cem­ber after Michel Te­mer, the out­go­ing Pres­i­dent, au­tho­rised a new ar­rest war­rant.

Yes­ter­day, Bo­li­vian po­lice colonel Paul Saave­dra said Bat­tisti was in the cus­tody of In­tepol of­fi­cials on a plane that was sent by Italy.

Saave­dra said that “the Ital­ian cit­i­zen en­tered Bo­livia il­le­gally”. He was lo­cated by in­tel­li­gence agents after us­ing one of his mo­bile de­vices.

Bat­tisti, a founder of the far-left Ital­ian rad­i­cal group Armed Pro­le­tar­i­ans for Com­mu­nism, was con­victed in ab­sen­tia in 1993 of four po­lit­i­cal killings com­mit­ted in the 1970s and sen­tenced to life in prison.

The 64-year-old has al­ways main­tained his in­no­cence.

Salvini praised Bat­tisti’s ar­rest and tweeted a car­i­ca­ture of him sit­ting in a deck chair on the beach with the cap­tion: “The party is over”.

Yes­ter­day Salvini met one of the sur­vivors of a mur­der for which Bat­tisti was con­victed. Al­berto Tor­re­giani, who was 15 when his fa­ther was shot dead in a Fe­bru­ary 1979 at­tack on his jew­ellery shop by three mem­bers of the Com­mu­nist mil­i­tant group, said: “After 40 years my par­ents can now rest in peace.”

Salvini, of the right-wing Lega Party, crit­i­cised left­ist lead­ers whom he claimed had pro­tected him.

In 1981 Bat­tisti fled to France, where he re­ceived pro­tec­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Franc¸ ois Mit­ter­rand.

When that amnesty was over­turned in 2002 he moved to Brazil, where he wrote 15 works of fic­tion.

Ed­uardo Bol­sonaro, the new Brazil­ian pres­i­dent’s son, tweeted to Salvini: “Brazil is no longer a land of ban­dits. The ‘lit­tle gift’ is com­ing.”

Com­mu­nist mil­i­tant Ce­sare Bat­tisti was caught in Bo­livia. Pho­tos / AP

Ce­sare Bat­tisti

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