Convicted Red Brigade woman still fears extradition

7th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Husband says wife still fears extradition, despite previous asylum offer.

7 August 2008

PARIS - The husband of convicted Italian Red Brigade member Marina Petrella said Wednesday his wife was happy to be released on bail but was still living with fear of extradition to Italy.

Hamed Merakchi said he spent Wednesday afternoon, along with his oldest daughter, with his 54-year-old partner, who is in a psychiatric hospital in Paris where doctors say she is in critical condition.

On Tuesday a French court had granted her bail because her family and doctors voiced serious concerns about her health.

The court ruling will allow her to receive hospital treatment without a police guard -- but it does not suspend the extradition procedure against her.

"The news (of her release on bail) made her very happy, but she is afraid to express her joy because she could regret it later," her husband said.

The mother-of-two was sentenced in absentia to life in jail by a court in Rome in 1992 for killing a police officer and seriously wounding his driver.

Petrella settled in France in the early 1990s under an offer of asylum extended to former leftist militants by then Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, provided they renounced their stance. She was arrested last August.

"She has mixed emotions between joy and fear. The uncertainty is enormous," her husband said, describing his wife as "truly exhausted".

Since her arrest a year ago, she has lost 20 percent of her weight and weighs less than 40 kilograms.

"Her liver has been affected as well as several other internal organs," he said, adding that doctors have succeeded in stabilising the degeneration of her internal organs.

"It is going to take several months" for her to recover, he said.

Petrella has filed an appeal to the extradition which will probably be heard in September.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy backed the extradition procedure last month, while calling for Italy to show clemency towards her. But the office of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has ruled out any automatic pardon.

The Red Brigades, a Marxist-Leninist group formed in the 1970s, sought to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle. Among their most notorious actions was the kidnap and murder of Italy's former Prime Minister Aldo Moro.

[AFP / Expatica]

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