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Tuesday 20th March 2018

President Bolsonaro Promises Italy to Extradite Terrorist


Roberto Tumbarello

Fri, 02 Nov 2018 19:54 GMT

For 37 years Italy has been trying unsuccessfully to extradite an Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti, 63, a refugee in Brazil, of which he became a citizen. As soon as he was elected president, during a telephone conversation with the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, Bolsonaro promised to extradite Battisti to Italy.

Convicted of four murders, in 1985 Battisti was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment. Arrested in June 1979, two years later he escaped from the prison of Frosinone he escaped to France, where he lived for a year in hiding. In Paris he began his career as a writer, also founding a cultural magazine, "Vie Libre".

After a year in France, he moved to Mexico, where he lived for nine years in Porto Escondito. In 1990, benefiting from the "Mitterrand doctrine", he returned to Europe. In France, declaring himself innocent and politically persecuted in Italy, he obtained asylum and, later, naturalisation, which, however, was withdrawn in 2004.

In 2004 Battisti understood that even in France safety wasn’t certain and going through Corsica he tried to reach Africa. Finally, he opted for South America and he established himself in Brazil, where in 2009 he was recognised as a political refugee, partly because of the success of his books.

Battisti is on his second marriage. He has two daughters by his first wife , Laurence, Valentina, now a biologist and Charlene. In Brazil, in 2013, Raul was born. His mother, Priscilla Ferreira, was a teacher. In 2015 Battisti married a Brazilian, Joyce Lima. Thanks to the second marriage, which, however, did not last long, he obtained citizenship. This enabled him to avoid extradition because in Brazil there is no life imprisonment sentence, which is not recognised in Italy.

At the end of the '70s, Battisti was a militant in one of the left wing terrorist groups in Italy, the Armed Groups for Communism. In 1978 Aldo Moro, head of one of the leading political parties in Italy and a candidate for the presidency of the Italian republic was kidnapped and killed. 

On June 6th 1978 Battisti was accused of the murder of Antonio Santoro, Marshal of the Penitentiary Police of Udine. On February 16th 1979 he was accused of “moral competition” in the killing of the jeweller, Pierluigi Torregiani, in Milan and of the serious wounding of his son, who recovered but was a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. On the same day, a few hours later, Lino Carradin, butcher and a sympathiser with the Italian Social Movement, neo-fascist party, was killed in Santa Maria di Sala (Venice). Battisti was convicted of complicity and for providing armed cover for the killer. On April 19th, 1979 in Milan he killed, Santoro, a Public Security officer, accused of torturing detainees. In fact, he was a simple driver. Both Campagna and Santoro were awarded the memorial gold medal for civil merit.

Even today Cesare Battisti proclaims himself innocent of all four murders, on which the convictions depended on accusations of repentant terrorists. Indeed, in the past he was said to be ready to give himself up to the Italian authorities, providing the Italian judiciary reopened the legal process under the supervision of international observers.

"I'm not afraid of the Bolsonaro fanfare,” said Cesare Battisti in an interview recently released on Radio Rai. “He can promise what he wants. I am protected by Brazilian law and by the judiciary," he added.

Two other fugitives not yet extradited from neighbouring Germany are Thyssenkrupp's chief executive, Harald Espenhahn, and the executive, Gerald Priegnitz, sentenced to eight and six years imprisonment respectively for the burning of the Turin ironworks on the night of December 7th, 2007. Seven workers were killed by boiling oil. After several trials, on May 13th 2016 the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the convictions of six people. The Italian executives immediately gave themselves up and are serving their sentences. The Germans, however, are still fugitives.

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