Italy to press France for terrorist extradition

8th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

ROME, March 6 (AFP) - Italian Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini said Saturday Rome would not give up its quest to extradite a former far-left activist and novelist living in France who has been convicted in absentia of murder.

ROME, March 6 (AFP) - Italian Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini said Saturday Rome would not give up its quest to extradite a former far-left activist and novelist living in France who has been convicted in absentia of murder.

"Italy will not give up on its extradition request for a terrorist condemned for a life sentence and who should be handed in to justice officials," Fini said after Battisti was ordered provisionally released by a Paris court on Wednesday.

Battisti, 49, who has lived in France since 1990 and is now a writer of detective novels, was detained on February 10 after an extradition request was filed by Italy. The decision means he can remain at liberty pending a court hearing on the request on April 7.

"Of course, the release of Battisti does not please me, and I say this while fully respecting the autonomy of the French authorities," Fini told journalists in the southern city of Naples.

"I hope the French authorities are watching to make sure Cesare Battisti does not flee," he said.

A former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism group, Battisti was convicted in absentia in 1998 by a court in Milan. He was found guilty of taking part in four killings in 1978 and 1979 as well as a number of armed robberies.

He was arrested in Milan in 1979, then escaped from prison in 1981 before fleeing into exile.

Battisti has gone on to become a successful detective novelist in France, with 11 titles to his credit.

He sought refugee in France in 1990 under the former Socialist government of the late president Francois Mitterrand, which offered implicit refuge for several other Italian leftists who had given up armed combat.

The current center-right government has since 2002 begun arresting several of the former activists. Paolo Persichetti, a 40-year-old former member of the Union of Communist Combatants, was extradited in 2002 to Italy, where he had been convicted of killing a general and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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