[Pnews] Italy’s most-wanted fugitive caught after decades on the run
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 14 13:15:18 EST 2019
/*2 ARTICLES FOLLOW*/
Bolsonaro’s ‘little gift’ to Salvini: Italy’s most-wanted fugitive
caught after decades on the run
jANUARY 14, 2019
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has praised Brazil’s new
government for its support in extraditing an Italian ex-communist
militant, who went on the run for almost 30 years after four murders
were committed in the 1970s.
Writing on his Facebook page on Sunday, Salvini thanked Brazil’s
recently inaugurated right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his
government for a change in the /“political climate”/ that allowed for
Cesare Battisti’s arrest and future extradition to Italy. /“The fun is
over,”/ he added, promising that Battisti would end his days in jail
rather than having a /“comfortable life on the beach.”/
Battisti, 64, was detained in neighboring Bolivia late on Saturday. He
had previously settled in Brazil after being granted refugee status by
former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2010. However,
he fled and disappeared in December following the revocation of his
status and the issuance of an arrest warrant.
Arrested in 1979 for his membership of the far-left Armed Proletarians
for Communism (PAC) terrorist group, Battisti escaped in 1981 while
awaiting trial in connection with four murders. He denies all charges.
Prior to his stint in Brazil, he previously lived in France and Mexico
and made a successful career writing police novels.
Announcing the capture
<https://twitter.com/filgmartin/status/1084275106652790785> on Twitter,
an aide to Bolsonaro said on Sunday that Battisti would soon be
transferred to Brazil ahead of his probable extradition to Italy to
However, a statement by the Italian government on Sunday said an
airplane had already been sent by Rome to collect Battisti in Bolivia
During his election campaign, former-army captain Bolsonaro reaffirmed
his commitment to extraditing the /“loved by the Brazilian left”/
Battisti if he was elected to office, tweeting in October that /“Brazil
In a tweet to Italy’s Salvini, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, wrote: /“Brazil
is no longer a land of bandits. The ‘little gift’ is coming.”/
Who is Cesare Battisti, the convicted murderer who spent a life on the
13 January 2019-
Convicted as a murderer for bloodshed in the 1970s, former leftwing
Italian activist Cesare Battisti, who was caught in Bolivia, has spent
almost four decades on the run, detailing his experiences in a string of
His capture at the weekend
was the latest twist in a near 40-year legal and diplomatic saga worthy
of the kind of autobiographical novel the 64-year-old made his speciality.
Convicted in absentia to life behind bars by an Italian court, he has
spent years on the road, travelling from Mexico to France and Brazil,
despite regular threats of extradition.
Battisti was convicted by an Italian court in 1993 and sentenced to life
for involvement in four murders in the 1970s when he was a leftwing
activist. Although he admits being part of an armed revolutionary group,
he has always denied responsibility for any deaths.
But 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 leftwing
and rightwing groups.
*Communist Catholic family*
A softly spoken apologist who can tirelessly argue in multiple
languages, Battisti was born in southern Rome on December 18, 1954 into
a Catholic family of communists. In the late 1970s, after spending
several brief stints in prison for minor offenses, he joined the Armed
Proletarians for Communism (PAC), a radical leftwing group which staged
a string of robberies and attacks.
"Aspiring to change society with arms is idiotic," he said in an
interview in 2011. "But listen, at the time everyone was packing a gun.
There were guerillas all over the world, Italy was in a
Arrested in Milan in 1979 and sentenced for belonging to an armed gang,
Battisti managed to escape from prison near Rome two years later,
fleeing first to France and then to Mexico in 1982.
Following a pledge by France's then socialist president Francois
Mitterand not to extradite former Italian activists who had turned their
back on their past, Battisti returned to France in 1990 and began his
writing career. Three years later, a Milan court convicted him in
absentia of personally killing two Italian police officers,
participating in the murder of a butcher, and planning an attack on a
jeweller who died in a shoot-out that left his 14-year-old son in a
But Battisti has denied having any blood on his hands over the
four murders, which took place in 1978 and 1979.
*Rebuilding a life in Paris*
Like hundreds of other Italians who were politically active in the
1970s, Battisti rebuilt his life in Paris, where he stayed until 2004.
Working as a caretaker to make ends meet, he began writing thrillers,
publishing more than a dozen of them, many with a strongly
autobiographical bent focusing on the exile and redemption of former
In 2004, the government of Jacques Chirac decided to end Mitterand's
policy and extradite Battisti back to Italy. Despite the support of
several high-profile figures, including best-selling crime novelist Fred
Vargas and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, Battisti's legal appeals were
But he skipped bail and fled to Brazil using a false identity with
the help, he later claimed, of the French secret services. But after
staying under the radar for three years, he was arrested in 2007 in Rio
He then spent four years in custody while his fate was debated by
politicians and the courts. At one point he even began a hunger strike,
insisting he would "prefer to die in Brazil than return to Italy".
*Last minute reprieve*
In January 2010, just hours before he left office, Brazil's
leftwing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decided to reject an
Italian request for his extradition.
Eighteen months later, Battisti was freed after Brazil's Supreme
Court upheld Lula's decision in a move which sparked fury in Italy.
After his release in June 2011, Brazil gave him permanent residency and
he moved to the small coastal city of Cananeia where he has continued to
write. In 2015, he married his partner Priscila and the pair have a
But his life has been subjected to the shifting decisions of
Brazil's judiciary, with a judge once again ordering his extradition in
2015, and two years later, he was picked up at the border with Bolivia
as he was trying to cross.
During Brazil's recent election campaign, far-right candidate Jair
Bolsonaro pledged to "immediately" extradite Battisti if elected,
prompting the fugitive to once again disappear.
But he was found on Saturday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la
Sierra, and once again, faces the prospect of extradition to Italy.
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