[Pnews] France releases far-left suspects pending review of Italy's decades-old extradition requests

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat May 1 20:46:33 EDT 2021


  France releases far-left suspects pending review of Italy's
  decades-old extradition requests

April 29, 2021

French authorities on Thursday released nine suspected former members of 
far-left militant groups – including former members of the Red 
Brigades – who were convicted in Italy of crimes in the 1970 and '80s 
while France examines decades-old extradition requests from Rome.

Two Italian nationals convicted of left-wing domestic terrorism in Italy 
decades ago turned themselves in to French justice authorities Thursday 
as part of a decisive operation by Paris and Rome on a law enforcement 
matter that had been at a standstill since the 1980s.

Luigi Bergamin, 72, a former member of the group Prima Linea, 
voluntarily presented himself at the Paris 
<https://www.france24.com/en/tag/paris/> courthouse in the morning, and 
Raffaele Ventura, 71, identified as a former member of the Communist 
Combatant Units, did the same later in the day, according to the Paris 
prosecutors’ office.

Seven other Italians were arrested at their homes in France on 
Like the two who surrendered Thursday, they were convicted in Italy of 
crimes dating to the 1970s and 1980s and included several former members 
of the Red Brigades. Police are still seeking one other person.

Bergamin was sentenced to 16 years, 11 months and one day for his role 
in the murders of two law enforcement officers: Andrea Campagna of the 
anti-terrorism Digos agency, who was killed in Milan in April 1979, and 
prison police chief Antonio Santoro, who died in Udine, northeastern 
Italy, in June 1978.

Bergamin was convicted of belonging to an armed group, instigating 
attacks aimed at undermining the state, illegally holding and carrying 
arms, aggravated robbery, aggravated theft, criminal association and 
aggravated murder.

Italian media also identified him as a co-founder in the late 1970s of 
Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC), and newspaper archives from the 
period also cite that association. He was arrested several times in 
Paris but released in 1985 and again in 1990, according to Italian daily 
newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Ventura was sentenced in Italy to 24 years and four months in prison for 
the 1977 murder of a police officer, Custra Antonio, in Milan.

All of the individuals arrested this week fled Italy and sought refuge 
abroad before they could be imprisoned to serve their sentences. The 
arrests followed negotiations between Italy 
<https://www.france24.com/en/tag/italy/> and France 
<https://www.france24.com/en/tag/france/> after decades during which 
Paris refused to act on many of the arrest warrants Italian authorities 
issued for convicted left-wing terrorists.

France established in 1985 a policy known as the “Mitterrand doctrine,” 
named for Socialist President Francois Mitterrand 
<https://www.france24.com/en/tag/fran%C3%A7ois-mitterrand/>. It said 
that Italian far-left activists who had fled to France would not be 
extradited to Italy unless there was evidence that they committed 
“crimes of blood.”

A French court now must separately decide whether to approve the 
extradition to Italy of each person. The French presidency said 
definitive decisions could take two to three years depending on appeals.

Five of those arrested were former members of the Red Brigades, a group 
active during the 1970s and 1980s that carried out killings, kidnappings 
and so-called “kneecappings,” in which targets were shot in the legs. 
The group later fell dormant.

*>> Red Brigades, extremists from Italy's 'Years of Lead' 

Among those detained on Wednesday was Giorgio Petrostefani, 77, a 
militant from the far-left group Lotta Continua (Struggle Continues). 
Petrostefani was convicted of the 1972 slaying of Milan Police Chief 
Luigi Calabresi and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Also arrested was a member of the Armed Cells Against Territorial Power, 
which Italian police described as a subversive group, who was convicted 
of the 1979 killing of a Carabinieri police officer.


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