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Last word on Battisti on 'political'

Brazilian supreme court rules in favor of extradition

19 November, 12:43
Last word on Battisti on 'political'

(ANSA) - Rome, November 19 - Now that Brazil's supreme court has given its green light to the extradition to Italy of convicted terrorist Cesare Battisti, the final decision on his return will be political, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Thursday.

"We await this next move with respect and serenity," he added.

"In the meantime, I wish to congratulate the two ambassadors who handled this painful chapter with competence, resolve and a sense of institutional responsibility," the foreign minister said.

"Our whole diplomatic network worked as a team and did a magnificent job. I thank everyone on behalf of all Italians," Frattini added.

Brazil's supreme court, in a five-to-four decision, ruled on Wednesday that Battisti could be extradited to Italy but that President Inacio Lula da Silva should have the final word.

Lula was in Italy this week, to take part in a United Nations food security summit and discussed the Battisti case when he met with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on the sidelines of the gathering.

''I couldn't come to Italy without addressing the Battisti case, but I don't want to tell you what we said to each other,'' Lula told journalists as he left the premier's office.

He added: ''I have already voiced my position, I'm waiting for the Supreme Court ruling''.

In the past, Lula has come out against Battisti being returned to Italy, but he has also said he will respect the court's decision.

Battisti, 54, was convicted in absentia for complicity in four murders committed by a leftist militant group in the 1970s.

He was arrested in Brazil in March 2008, some four years after he had fled to that country to avoid extradition to Italy from France, where he had lived for 15 years and become a successful writer of crime novels.

In January, the Brazilian justice ministry granted Battisti political asylum on the grounds that he would face ''political persecution'' in Italy.

The ruling outraged the Italian government who demanded that it be appealed to the Brazilian supreme court.

Those arguing against his extradition claim he is the victim of political persecution, while those who think he should be sent back to serve out his sentence say the crimes he was convicted of were not political. photo: Cesare Battisti

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