French court approves extraditionof Italian terrorist fugitive

13th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 13 (AFP) - A French appeals court Wednesday gave final approval for authorities to extradite an Italian former revolutionary who had found years of sanctuary in Paris after renouncing his violent past.

PARIS, Oct 13 (AFP) - A French appeals court Wednesday gave final approval for authorities to extradite an Italian former revolutionary who had found years of sanctuary in Paris after renouncing his violent past.  

The Cour de Cassation, France's Supreme Court, struck down an appeal Cesare Battisti had lodged against his return to Italy, where he has been convicted in absentia for taking part in four murders in 1978 and 1978 and sentenced to life in prison.  

Battisti - who worked as a building caretaker after fleeing to Paris in 1990 and earned a name as a successful crime writer - was not present for Wednesday's verdict and is currently a fugitive with a French arrest warrant issued against him.  

The former left-wing extremist's plight has been adopted by members of France's intelligentsia, who argue that he should continue to benefit from a policy by former president Francois Mitterrand under which Italian left-wing extremists would be welcome if they abandoned their radical stance.  

Italy has lobbied hard for Battisti's return, saying that fugitives in one European state should not be given refuge in another.  

Battisti, 49, had initially been allowed to continue his life in Paris pending the appeal on condition he checked in weekly with police, but that was revoked in August after he failed to keep one of his appointments.  

His whereabouts are unknown, although his lawyers say he is still in France.   A former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, Battisti was convicted by a court in Milan in 1993 for the murders he was accused of carrying out or planning. The victims included a prison guard in the town of Udine and a policeman in Milan.  

For the extradition order to take effect, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will have to add his signature to a decree.  

One of Battisti's lawyers, Arnaud Lyon-Caen, said he was "disappointed" by the verdict and was considering challenging it in France's highest tribunal dedicated to administrative cases.  

Another, Eric Turcon, said a new legal team would be formed to handle that step, adding: "Cesare Battisti strongly affirms that he is innocent of the crimes he is unjustly accused of."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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