Brazil police arrest Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s federal police on Thursday arrested former Italian communist militant Cesare Battisti on a judge’s deportation order.
The arrest comes despite former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2010 rejecting Italy’s extradition request for Battisti, who is a fugitive from Italian murder convictions. Silva granted him asylum and had the Supreme Court approve that decision three years later.
However, also in 2013, the top federal appeals court rejected Battisti’s request to overturn a Brazilian conviction for using fake immigration stamps in his passport when he entered Brazil in 2004.
Federal prosecutors used that decision to seek Battisti’s deportation, arguing he had violated Brazil’s Foreigner’s Law, which prohibits foreigners convicted of a felony in another country from receiving residency.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the prosecutor’s motion, which led to his arrest Thursday. He was being held in Sao Paulo.
Battisti’s lawyer, Igor Sant’Anna Tamasauskas, told reporters outside federal police headquarters in Sao Paulo that he was appealing the arrest of Battisti. He called it an act “so absurd, I don’t believe that it will stand for long.”
There are several layers of appeals that Battisti can make, and it’s expected to take years before his case again reaches the Supreme Court for a new ruling.
Battisti escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 while awaiting trial on four counts of murder allegedly committed when he was a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism. He was convicted in absentia in 1990 and sentenced to life in prison. He has acknowledged membership in the group but has denied killing anyone.
He moved first to Mexico, then to France in 1990, where he remade himself as an author. He fled to Brazil in 2004 when France changed its policy on giving asylum to former Italian militants who had renounced their convictions.
Battisti was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 at the request of the international police agency Interpol.
His use of fake immigration stamps was discovered shortly after he was arrested.
After his 2007 detention, the Justice Ministry’s National Committee for Refugees recommended extradition, a decision that then Justice Minister Tarso Genro overturned in 2009.
In June 2013, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld Silva’s decision to grant Battisti asylum. Brazil’s National Immigration Council then granted Battisti a residency visa, giving him the same rights as all Brazilian citizens, except the right to vote.
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