BRASILIA – Brazilian police detained Cesare Battisti, an Italian former left-wing guerrilla convicted of murder in his country, on Wednesday as he was attempting to cross the border into Bolivia, a federal police spokesman said.
Battisti was apparently trying to leave Brazil after Italy asked Brazil’s government to revoke his asylum status and extradite him to serve his prison sentence, O Globo newspaper reported.
Battisti had faced life in prison in Italy, where he was convicted of four murders committed in the 1970s, when he belonged to a guerrilla group called Armed Proletarians for Communism. He escaped from prison in 1981 and lived in France before fleeing to Brazil to avoid being extradited to Italy.
“The information we have up until now is that Battisti was detained in Corumbá. It is not an arrest,” the police spokesman told Reuters.
Battisti’s lawyer, Igor Sant’Anna, said he heard about the detention through the media, but told Reuters that he had sought a habeas corpus injunction last week due to the risk that President Michel Temer’s government could agree to Italy’s request. Habeus corpus is a legal procedure that keeps a government from holding a person without showing cause.
O Globo reported last week that Italy had asked the Temer government to review the status of Battisti, who was granted refugee status by former leftist President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on his last day in office in 2010.
Lula had refused an Italian extradition request, a decision that upset relations between the two countries.