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Fugitive Cesare Battisti to be extradited to Italy

media Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti was arrested in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Saturday, January 12, 2019 REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

Infamous Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti was arrested in Bolivia on Saturday. Italy, who has been demanding his extradition for decades, immediately sent a plane to bring him back.Before taking refuge in Brazil, Battisti had been in France from where he escaped while on bail in 2004.

Italy on Sunday sent a plane carrying police and secret service agents to Bolivia where fugitive ex-communist militant Cesare Battisti, wanted by Rome, was arrested on Saturday, the interior ministry said.

Battisti, 64, was arrested late Saturday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, according to Brazilian police.

Battisti's extradition from Brazil

Italy has repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, who lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In mid-December Brazil's outgoing president, Michel Temer, signed an extradition order for Battisti after a judge ordered his arrest. By then the Italian ex-militant was nowhere to be found.

During his recent presidential campaign, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro  promised that, if elected, he would "immediately" extradite Battisti to Italy.

A life-story worthy of Hollywood

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

He was subsequently convicted in absentia of having killed two Italian policemen, taking part in the murder of a butcher, and helping plan the slaying of a jeweler who died in a shootout 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.

Cesare Battisti being escorted by Brazilian police in Corumba (Western Brazil), 5 October 2017. FABIO MARCHI / AFP

After years in custody, Battisti was saved by President Lula, who was in office at the time.

Lula issued a decree refusing Battisti's extradition to Italy, and he was freed. -- The decision was later upheld by Brazil's Supreme Court in 2010, angering Italy.

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

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