Fugi­tive ex-mil­i­tant Bat­tisti ex­tra­dited

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL -

ROME: For­mer com­mu­nist mil­i­tant Ce­sare Bat­tisti was due to land in Rome yes­ter­day after an in­ter­na­tional po­lice squad tracked the Ital­ian down and ar­rested him in Bo­livia, end­ing al­most four decades on the run. Jailed in 1979 for be­long­ing to an armed rev­o­lu­tion­ary group out­lawed in Italy, Bat­tisti es­caped from prison two years later and was con­victed in ab­sen­tia of four mur­ders car­ried out dur­ing the 1970s. Italy had re­peat­edly sought the ex­tra­di­tion of the ac­tivist, who lived in Brazil for years un­der the pro­tec­tion of for­mer left­ist pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, him­self now in prison for cor­rup­tion. Bat­tisti was seized late on Sat­ur­day in the Bo­li­vian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in an op­er­a­tion car­ried out by a joint team of Ital­ian and Bo­li­vian of­fi­cers, Ital­ian state po­lice said. The 64-year-old fugi­tive, re­port­edly dis­guised in a false beard and mous­tache at the time of his ar­rest, was stopped in the street and gave up without a strug­gle, ac­cord­ing to Ital­ian gov­ern­ment sources. He was handed to Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties and put on a plane which left Bo­livia on Sun­day af­ter­noon lo­cal time. “The air­plane with Bat­tisti has just left for Italy: I’m proud and de­lighted,” Italy’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini tweeted. Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte said in a Face­book post that he had ex­pressed grat­i­tude to Brazil’s re­cently in­au­gu­rated Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro in a tele­phone call. “I wanted to thank him on be­half of the whole Ital­ian gov­ern­ment for the ef­fec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion that led to Bat­tisti’s cap­ture,” he said. Bat­tisti was sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment 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 that left his 14-year-old son in a wheel­chair. The ex-mil­i­tant has ad­mit­ted to be­ing part of the Armed Pro­le­tar­i­ans for Com­mu­nism, but has al­ways de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for any deaths. How­ever Rome re­mains de­ter­mined to pun­ish one of the last fig­ures from Italy’s so-called “Years of Lead”, a decade of vi­o­lent tur­moil which be­gan in the late 1960s and saw dozens of deadly at­tacks by hard­line groups.

AFP

For­mer mil­i­tant Ce­sare Bat­tisti sits aboard an ex­tra­di­tion flight to Italy.

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