[Pnews] Italy’s most-wanted fugitive caught after decades on the run

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 14 13:15:18 EST 2019



  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 
stand trial.

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 
deserves respect.”/

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 
acclaimed thrillers.
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 
pre-revolutionary situation."
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 
hardline activists.
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 
de Janeiro.
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 
son, Raul.
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.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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