A ‘little gift’: Brazil sends fugitive far-left militant back to Italy
A LEFT-WING Italian militant who spent decades on the run after being convicted of four murders committed in the Seventies has been captured in Bolivia and will be extradited to Italy as a “little gift” from Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro to the populist interior minister Matteo Salvini.
Cesare Battisti was arrested on Saturday 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.
“Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti was detained in Bolivia 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 to Mr Bolsonaro.
Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, said the government had dispatched a plane to Latin America to bring Battisti back to Italy. 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 Seventies and sentenced to life in prison. The 64-year-old has always maintained his innocence.
Mr 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 the Italian interior minister 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.”
Mr 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 François Mitterrand. When that amnesty was overturned in 2002 he travelled to Brazil, and wrote 15 works of fiction He fled the country in December after Michel Temer, the outgoing president, authorised a new arrest warrant.
Yesterday, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of the president, tweeted to Mr Salvini: “Brazil is no longer a land of bandits. The ‘little gift’ is coming.”
Cesare Battisti after his arrest in Bolivia. He was convicted in 1993 of four murders