France’s decision not to extradite a former member of the Italian Red Brigades terrorist group because of poor health, does not weaken French resolve to fight terrorism, President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
Marina Petrella’s weakened state and “profound depression” is potentially life-threatening and her extradition to Italy has been annulled on humanitarian grounds. The sister of France’s first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy claimed she spoke in favour of Petrella remaining in France.
Petrella was found guilty by an Italian court in absentia in 1992 for murder and kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. The Red Brigades unleashed a series of attacks in Italy in the 1970s and 80s.
In Italy reaction to the decision is mixed; Paulo Cento from the Green Party said: “As for the French president, this is a humane gesture, considering the health of Marina Petrella the victims families should be on the side of law and order and vendetta serves no purpose. We must leave these dark times behind us.”
Olga D’Antona, the widow of one of the Red Brigades victims and a member of the Democratic Party is unhappy with the announcement. She said: “Sarkozy’s decision is disrespectful to the Italian government and international conventions, and France continues to be a haven for many Italian terrorists.”
Petrella has lived in France for two decades, protected by a policy of President Francois Mitterand to grant asylum to repentant members of the Red Brigades.