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Italy asks France to extradite former left-wing activist

media Former Italian guerrilla Cesare Battisti escorted by police upon his arrival in Italy after a 38-year run from the law through Mexico, France and Brazil, 14 January 2019. Reuters/Max Rossi

French and Italian officials are due to meet to discuss an extradition request for a former member of a left-wing armed group wanted for crimes committed during Italy’s “Years of Lead” of the 1960s and 1970s.

Italy’s justice ministry has not made the identity of the fugitive public, but has indicated he was convicted of acts of terrorism during a period of political turbulence from the late 1960s to early 1980s.

France’s justice ministry indicated it had received an official extradition request and that it was studying other cases with its Italian counterparts.

“Talks between the French and Italian Justice ministries are being held over 15 cases,” ministry spokesperson Youssef Badr told Reuters agency on Monday.

Badr added he was expecting a second official request in the coming days.

More than 400 people died in political bombings, assassinations and street clashes by rival far-right and far-left extra-parliamentary groups during the Years of Lead.

In the twilight years of the period, as many as 300 members of left-wing groups fled to France, where they received protection under a policy that judged they could not be assured of fair treatment in Italy’s justice system.

One of the most famous of these was Cesare Battisti, who also lived in Mexico and Brazil for many years before fleeing to Bolivia, where he was arrested and extradited in January.

Within days of Battisti’s return to Rome, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini urged French President Emmanuel Macron to send home other former guerrillas to serve prison sentences in Italy.

According to the Italian daily La Repubblica, the list of fugitives includes three convicted for playing a role in the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro.

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