Italian ex-militant Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia | News | DW | 13.01.2019
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Italian ex-militant Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia

Former Italian communist militant Cesare Battisti is to be flown directly from Santa Cruz where he was captured, to Rome, without passing by Brazil. Former President Lula had allowed Battisti a safe haven.

Italy had repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti. The convicted murderer lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is now in prison for corruption.

Battisti, a founding member of far-left Italian radical group Armed Proletarians for Communism, was convicted in absentia in 1993 of four political killings committed in the 1970s and sentenced to life in prison in Italy. The 63-year-old has maintained his innocence.

Battisti was detained late Saturday in Santa Cruz and is to be flown directly to Rome in a plane sent by Italian authorities. The white aircraft with an Italian flag landed in the rain at Viru Viru airport on Sunday afternoon. 

There was a suggestion Battisti would be sent to Brazil but Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte posted on Facebook that he would "return to Italy in the coming hours, on a flight leaving from Santa Cruz directly to Rome."

Bolsonaro's 'little gift' to Italy

President Jair Bolsonaro, who was inaugurated this month, had previously expressed his intention to allow Battisti's extradition as a "little gift." The Brazilian government, then under former leftist President Luiz Inacio, refused an extradition request in 2011.

Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, a lawmaker in the Chamber of Deputies, praised the arrest on Twitter.

"Brazil is no longer the land of outlaws. @matteosalvinimi, the 'little gift' is on his way," he wrote addressing Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini praised the Bolivian police and the Brazilian government. He called Battisti a "delinquent who doesn't deserve to live comfortably on the beach but rather to finish his days in prison."

A life on the run

Italy sought the extradition of Battisti, after he escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 and fled to France and then Mexico before arriving in Brazil, where he settled in 2004.

Brazilian judges in December ordered the arrest of Battisti and an extradition order was signed a day later by outgoing president Michel Temer.

law/jm (ADP, dpa)

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