Salvini to Macron: Work with me to arrest Italian 'assassins' hiding in France

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on January 14, 2019.
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on January 14, 2019. Copyright REUTERS/Remo Casilli
By Alice Tidey & Reuters
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Italy's Interior Ministry said it is looking for 30 criminals wanted in their native country but hiding abroad.


Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Saturday that he was ready to meet French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss steps to arrest and expatriate Italians living in France but wanted in their native country on charges of terrorism.

Salvini's announcement came after Cesare Battisti, a former communist militant, was jailed following his arrest and extradition from Bolivia.

Battisti, 64, had been condemned to four life sentences in prison for the killings he carried out as a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism in the 1970s. But he had fled first to France — where he spent 15 years — and then to Brazil.

Following his arrest in Bolivia earlier this month, Italy's interior ministry said it had updated a list of 30 Italians — 27 of them leftists — wanted on terrorist offences and who are living abroad.

The ministry did not make the list public but 14 are believed to be in France. At least three of them were convicted for their role in the 1978 kidnapping and murder of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, according to La Repubblica newspaper.

"If needed I'm ready to leave for Paris to meet Macron, it it helps bring back to Italy these assassins," Salvini said on Twitter.

Macron has not commented on the issue but the Justice Ministry said after the initial reports earlier this week that the country did not keep a detailed list of Italian fugitives living in the country.

"Extradition requests received by the Italian authorities in the coming days will be analysed in detail, on a case-by-case basis, as has been the case for the last 15 years or so," the spokesman said.

Former French President Francois Mitterrand instituted what came to be known as the "Mitterrand doctrine" in the 1980s, a policy that shielded the militants from extradition because the French leader believed at the time that the Italian justice system was stacked against them. The doctrine was abandoned in the early 2000s.

But in 2008, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy refused to extradite Marina Petrella, a former member of the Italian terrorist Red Brigades organisation, sentenced in 1992 for the killing of a police officer.

Sarkozy said his decision was take on "humanitarian grounds" but it is believed he was privately lobbied by his Italian-born wife, model Carla Bruni, who visited Petrella in hospital where she had gone on hunger strike.

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