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Brazilian court orders arrest of Italian former leftwing guerrilla

Brazil’s rightwing president-elect has pledged to extradite Cesare Battisti as a gift to RomeA supreme court judge in Brazil has ordered the arrest of an Italian writer and former leftwing guerrilla wanted in Italy for four murders attributed to a far-left group in the 1970s.Cesare Battisti, 63, a former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism, which disbanded in 1979, has been on the run from Italian authorities for decades. Continue reading...

A supreme court judge in Brazil has ordered the arrest of an Italian writer and former leftwing guerrilla wanted in Italy for four murders attributed to a far-left group in the 1970s.

Cesare Battisti, 63, a former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism, which disbanded in 1979, has been on the run from Italian authorities for decades.

He has been living in Cananéia, the southernmost city in the state of São Paulo, for years, having been granted asylum in 2010 by the then president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Two months ago, in a video response to a letter from Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, Brazil’s far-right president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, promised to extradite Battisti. Bolsonaro, who takes office on 1 January, said the extradition would be his “present’’ to Rome.

‘’We will show to the world our commitment to fighting terrorism,” Bolsonaro said in October, describing Battisti as a figure “adored by the Brazilian left”.

Last year, Battisti was granted an injunction preventing his extradition. But on Thursday, the supreme court judge Luiz Fux revoked it and ordered his detention.

Battisti was convicted in Italy in 1979 of belonging to the outlawed Armed Proletarians for Communism, and in 1981 he escaped from prison. He was subsequently convicted in absentia of killing two police officers, taking part in the murder of a butcher and helping to plan the killing of a jeweller. Battisti admitted to being part of the group but denied responsibility for any deaths.

He spent about 30 years on the run in Mexico and France, where he was was protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, a 1985 law that offered asylum to about 100 former Italian guerrillas “on the condition that they withdrew from politics”.

In 2004, Battisti skipped bail in France and took refuge in Brazil, where he lived clandestinely for three years until he was arrested in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro. After four years in custody, Lula issued a decree refusing Battisti’s extradition to Italy, and he was freed.

On Thursday, Salvini tweeted: “A lifer who is enjoying life on a beach in Brazil makes me crazy! I will pay my tribute to Bolsonaro if he will help Italy to extradite Battisti. We have a present for him in Italy: a future in a jail.”

Bolsonaro replied: “You can count on us!”

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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