Fugitive ex-militant Battisti extradited
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.
Former militant Cesare Battisti sits aboard an extradition flight to Italy.