Convicted Italian killer still in France: lawyers

23rd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 25 (AFP) - Cesare Battisti, an Italian ex-revolutionary fighting extradition from France to face jail for murder, has said he is still in his adopted homeland despite reports of his flight, his lawyers said Wednesday.

PARIS, Aug 25 (AFP) - Cesare Battisti, an Italian ex-revolutionary fighting extradition from France to face jail for murder, has said he is still in his adopted homeland despite reports of his flight, his lawyers said Wednesday.

"I will not leave France, I wouldn't know how to do so - it's my country and I don't see any other for me in the future," Battisti wrote in a letter to his attorneys Irene Terrel and Jean-Jacques de Felice, who made it public.

The former left-wing extremist, who was convicted in absentia in Italy for four murders and whose extradition from France is currently being held up on appeal, missed his weekly check-in with French parole officers at the weekend.

On Tuesday, the left-leaning Liberation newspaper reported without citing sources that the 49-year-old Battisti had been outside the country for possibly 10 days and at least since the start of last week.

In a statement, French Justice Minister Dominique Perben raised the possibility of Battisti's possible "escape", much to the fury of officials in Italy.

Battisti's lawyers said the letter had been mailed in Paris on August 19, and that he had asked them to release it to the media.

In his letter, Battisti - a darling of France's left-wing political and intellectual establishment - also said that he would report to police as required under the terms of his conditional release.

Battisti, who works as a concierge in Paris and has also earned a name as a successful crime writer, was released from prison in March pending a new appeal hearing on condition he reported to police once a week.

The former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism fled to France in 1990, benefiting from a policy of then Socialist president Francois Mitterrand under which Italian left-wing extremists could stay in France if they renounced their extremist past.

Three years later Battisti was convicted in absentia by a court in Milan for carrying out or planning four murders in 1978 and 1979, including the killing of a prison guard in the town of Udine and of a policeman in Milan.

The Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeals court, was due to review Battisti's request to fight his extradition on September 29.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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