December 14, 2018 / 12:53 AM / 4 months ago

Brazil judge orders arrest of Italian militant fugitive Battisti: report

FILE PHOTO: Leftist Italian militant Cesare Battisti is escorted by Brazilian federal police officers as he leaves the Federal Justice building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil December 10, 2009. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has ordered the arrest of Cesare Battisti, an Italian former left-wing guerrilla convicted of murder in his country, opening the way for his extradition, Globo TV reported on Thursday.

Justice Luiz Fux revoked an injunction he granted last year preventing Battisti’s extradition, and ruled it was up to Brazil’s president to decide his fate, Globo said. Battisti’s lawyer Igor Tamasauskas told Reuters he had received the decision but had not yet read it, though he believed his client’s arrest had been ordered.

The extradition of Battisti has been long sought by Italy. He faces life in prison in his home country, 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.

The Italian government almost obtained his extradition in 2010 but leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva granted Battisti asylum on his last day in office that year.

Brazil’s incoming far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan. 1, has said he would extradite Battisti immediately.

The current centrist government of President Michel Temer was prevented from extraditing Battisti by Fux’s injunction upholding his asylum status. That decision came after Battisti was caught trying to cross the border into Bolivia and arrested for having large amounts of undeclared cash.

Fux has now decided that the extradition should be a presidential decision, since the Supreme Court had already ruled for Battisti to be sent back to Italy in 2009.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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