By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After more than forty years as a fugitive, thirteen of those living in Brazil, Italy’s Cesare Battisti, was captured in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Saturday. Both Italian and Brazilian authorities celebrated the capture and the deportation of Battisti from Bolivia directly to Italy.
“Congratulations to those responsible for the capture of terrorist Cesare Battisti! Finally, justice will be made for the Italian murderer and a friend one of the most corrupt governments that ever existed in the world (PT),” read the message on Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, Tweeter account.
Before and after being elected, Bolsonaro defended the extradition of Battisti. Italy’s ambassador to Brazil, Antonio Bernardini, was one of the first foreign officials to meet with Bolsonaro after the October presidential election results, and reiterated the request for the extradition of Battisti.
The Italian fugitive fled Brazil in December after then-president Michel Temer authorized his extradition. Since then, Brazil’s federal police has been searching for Battisti, including in the home of a close friend of former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and in a boat in the Amazon River.
With rumors that Battisti would be returned to Brazil, defense lawyers requested from the country’s Supreme Court a habeas corpus to avoid his transfer to Italy. Supreme Court Chief Justice, José Antonio Dias Toffoli, denied the request on Sunday.
Legally, Battisti was not extradited to Italy, but expelled from Bolivia for illegal entry into the country.
In Italy, Battisti has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of four people in the 1970s when he was part of the Proletarians Armed by Communism, an arm of the Red Brigades.
During the Lula and Rousseff presidencies, Battisti was allowed to remain in Brazil and dubbed a political refugee by those Administrations.