By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Former Italian activist, Cesare Battisti was arrested in São Paulo on Thursday, March 12th and faced deportation to Italy, where he has been convicted to life in prison for four homicides, only to be released seven hours later due to a habeas corpus given by judge, Cândido Ribeiro.
Battisti, who is sixty years old, was arrested in Embu das Artes, within the São Paulo Metropolitan area, because the Brazilian permanence visa on his passport had been canceled at the beginning of March. At that time, the courts initiated deportation proceedings back to either France or Mexico, where he had lived before coming to Brazil.
Battisti escaped an Italian jail in 1981, while awaiting trial for murders committed in 1978-1979. After living in France and Mexico, the Italian fugitive arrived in Brazil, in 2004, where he was discovered three years later living in Rio de Janeiro.
He was arrested and extradition negotiations between Brazil and Italy began, but extradition decisions in Brazil are made by the President. Battisti filed for political asylum while spending more than four years in a jail cell in Brasília.
On December 31, 2010, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s last day in office, he granted Battisti asylum in the country and the former activist and writer was freed. At the time, President Lula stated that he considered Battisti was being persecuted for his political views.
Battisti has always admitted he was part of a radical left-wing group in Italy, but insists that he never killed anyone.