After years of evading authorities in several countries fugitive leftist militant Cesare Battisti appears bound for jail in Italy. He was arrested on a beach in Rio de Janeiro after an operation involving Brazilian, Italian and French police. Battisti had been on the run for 26 years after escaping from prison in Italy. A Brazilian official said he would remain in custody while the country’s Supreme Court considers Italy’s extradition request.
The former Red Brigades’ leader was convicted in absentia of four murders and several robberies. From Italy he fled first to Mexico, then France, where President Francois Mitterand had said Italian extremists would not be extradited if they renounced violence. Battisti prospered in France as a thriller writer, among other jobs.
But all that changed when, despite protests from some French intellectuals, Paris did an about-turn and ruled he could be sent back to Italy. Before he could be arrested, he fled Brazil. Battisti has always maintained he committed no crimes. Politicians in Italy and France, who believe the saga has finally come to an end have welcomed the arrest.