Brazil orders arrest of ex-leftist militant wanted in Italy

Italian former leftist guerrilla Cesare Battisti leaves the headquarters of Federal Police in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this March 13, 2015 file photo. — Reuters

BRASILIA — A judge in Brazil on Thursday ordered the arrest of an Italian wanted in his country for four murders attributed to a far-left group in the 1970s.

Cesare Battisti was ordered detained for the purpose of extradition to Italy, wrote Judge Luiz Fux of the Supreme Court.

Italy has repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, 63, who has been living in brazil for years under protection accorded him by former leftwing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, now in prison for corruption.

Incoming far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has promised to extradite Battisti.

Igor San’Anna Tamasauskas, Battisti’s lawyer, said he had not received any notice from the court. He said his client lives in the town of Cananeia in Sao Paulo state.

There was no immediate word on whether Battisti had been arrested. The judge asked that his order be sent to Interpol.

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison after being convicted in 1979 of belonging to the outlawed Armed Proletarians for Communism.

He was subsequently convicted in absentia of having killed two members of Italy’s police forces, taking part in the murder of a butcher, and helping plan the slaying of a jeweler who died in a shoot-out which left his 14-year-old son in a wheelchair.

Battisti admitted to being part of the group but denied responsibility for any deaths.

He reinvented himself as an author and in 2004 skipped bail in France, where he had taken refuge. He went to live clandestinely in brazil until he was arrested in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro.

After four years in custody, Lula issued a decree — later upheld by Brazil’s Supreme Court — refusing Battisti’s extradition to Italy, and he was freed, angering Italy.

Battisti, who has a five-year-old Brazilian son, last year said he faced “torture” and death if he were ever to be sent back to Italy. — AFP