Fugi­tive Ital­ian ar­rested in Bo­livia, faces ex­tra­di­tion

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

ROME: Ce­sare Bat­tisti, a far-left mil­i­tant who has been on the run for nearly 40 years, should be quickly repa­tri­ated to serve a life sen­tence for mur­der, the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment said on 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.

“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.

He added that the Ital­ian would be taken to Brazil first be­fore ‘‘prob­a­bly” be­ing sent to Italy.

Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte wrote on Face­book that an of­fi­cial Ital­ian plane was on its way to Bo­livia “with the aim of tak­ing Bat­tisti and bring­ing him back to Italy. Our jails here are wait­ing for him.”

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.

Bol­sonaro’s son Ed­uardo, who is a law­maker in the Cham­ber of Deputies, cel­e­brated the ar­rest on Twit­ter.

“Brazil is no longer the land of out­laws. @mat­teosalvin­imi, the ‘lit­tle gift’ is on his way,” he wrote ad­dress­ing Ital­ian In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini.

“A heart­felt thanks to Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro,” Salvini wrote on Face­book, call­ing Bat­tisti “a crim­i­nal who does not de­serve a com­fort­able life at the beach, but to end his days in jail.”

“Bat­tisti caught! Democ­racy is stronger than ter­ror­ism,” re­joiced Ital­ian Am­bas­sador to Brazil An­to­nio Bernar­dini on Twit­ter.

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 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.

Bol­sonaro, a right-winger, has ac­cused his left-wing pre­de­ces­sors Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva and Dilma Roussef of shield­ing Bat­tisti from jus­tice. Lula turned down an ex­tra­di­tion re­quest from Italy in2010, and Brazil’s supreme court con­firmed the de­ci­sion in 2011.

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 lef­t­and 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 left­wing 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.

Ce­sare Bat­tisti

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