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Petrella: not the only former Red Brigade militant facing extradition

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Petrella: not the only former Red Brigade militant facing extradition


A former member of the Red Brigades, Marina Petrella was convicted in absentia in 1992, and sentenced to life in prison. An Italian court found her guilty of the murder of a police chief in Rome in 1981, and the kidnapping of a magistrate.

She was arrested in December 1982 and gave birth to her first daughter in prison a year later. In 1986, however, after being granted bail, she fled to France.

Like other fugitive far-left activists, she benefited from a policy of former French president Francois Mitterand.

In 1985, the president said he would not extradite former terrorists who have renounced violence.

With this promise, numerous fugutives, including the writer Cesare Battisti, were able to start new lives in France. They had no fears about arrest until 2002, when the Italian government accused Paris of protecting terrorists. A dozen extradition requests started to arrive in France.

“It’s difficult, 25 years later, to go back into the skin of a fugitive who risks life in prison and being arrested at any moment. It’s not possible, otherwise it’s no longer a life.”

Those words didn’t go down well with Alberto Torreggiani, who was paralysed in a shooting that killed his father.

“Me, I’m paying all my life, spending my life sitting in a wheelchair because of an attack by this group. It’s like I’m doing a life sentence, he should also do his. He’s condemned by the facts, not by me.”

Battisti fled to Brazil to avoid extradition to Italy, but was arrested by Brazilian police in March 2007. Judges there must now decide if he should be extradited.

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