A ‘lit­tle gift’: Brazil sends fugi­tive far-left mil­i­tant back to Italy

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Josephine Mckenna in Rome

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

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