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Italy recalls Brazilian ambassador over refusal to extradite 'terrorist'

Tempers flared on both sides of the Atlantic as a heated dispute between Italy and Brazil escalated. The row began when Brazil refused to extradite a former left-wing radical who Italy considers a terrorist.

Police escort Battisti in handcuffs

Brazil rejects handing over Battisti to Italy

Italy and Brazil were locked in a heated diplomatic dispute following the Brazilian president's decision on Friday not to extradite an Italian man who Rome considers a terrorist and holds responsible for murders committed in the 1970s.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti prompted Italy to immediately recall its ambassador to Brazil, calling the decision "seriously offensive."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday he would continue to fight for Battisti's extradition. "This affair is far from over: Italy will not give up," he said in a statement.

Brazil has criticized Italy of being "impertinent" for rejecting Lula's judgment.

Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi says he won't accept Brazil's refusal

On the run

Rome has been pursuing Battisti for decades for his activities as a member of a radical, armed left-wing group, the "Armed Proletariat for Communism," that killed several people in the 1970s.

Battisti spent three decades on the run, first in France, where he made a career as a writer and published several crime novels. He later fled to Mexico and then to Brazil, where he was arrested in 2007 and transferred to jail pending the Italian extradition charges.

In 1993, an Italian court sentenced him to life in prison in absentia, after finding him guilty of murders committed by the Armed Proletariat for Communism in the late 1970s.

Battisti has said he is innocent and that he is the victim of political persecution.

The diplomatic row will now fall to Lula's successor, Dilma Rousseff, who is set to take over the Brazilian presidency on Saturday.

Author: Sarah Harman (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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