Red Brigades convict says all Italy will get is her 'corpse'

25th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

A convicted Red Brigade member due to be extradited from France to Italy has vowed that the only thing she will give up is her "corpse", says her husband.

25 July 2008

PARIS - A convicted Red Brigade member due to be extradited from France to Italy has vowed that the only thing she will give up is her "corpse," her husband told French radio Thursday.

Marina Petrella, 54, was moved Wednesday from a prison outside Paris to a psychiatric hospital in the French capital, where she has "given up on life", according to doctors treating her.

Petrella was sentenced to life by a court in Rome in 1992 in absentia for killing a police officer and seriously wounding his driver. She was also charged with staging an armed attack.

"She looked me in the eyes and said 'I know that this will be hard, but the only thing they will get is my corpse, nothing else'," Hamed Merakchi told Europe 1.

"I found her extremely feeble. You would think she had aged 20 years. She looks like a little old woman," added Merakchi, who hoped her case would be reconsidered, saying France is "not a country of savages".

A warrant was issued in June for her extradition, since when she has become "depressive and suicidal," with doctor Jean-Francois Bloch-Laine saying that she weighs only 39 kilograms.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's agreement to a request from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berulsconi to extradite Petrella, who had settled in France in 1993, was accompanied by a call for clemency.

Sarkozy told reporters that Berlusconi "would intervene with the Italian president to try to obtain clemency," however Italian President Giorgio Napolitano's office ruled out an automatic pardon.

A statement said Petrella had been sentenced to life imprisonment for "numerous and extremely serious terrorist crimes" and had so far escaped justice.

The mother of two daughters - aged 25 and 10 - does not claim to be staging a hunger strike, but is eating very little, according to doctors, with her lawyer warning she is a suicide risk if she returns to Italy.

Sarkozy's decision was attacked by the opposition Socialist Party, citing then president Francois Mitterrand's 1985 offer of political asylum to former leftist extremists provided they renounced their stance.

Activists accused Sarkozy of hypocrisy after he offered a safe haven earlier this year to FARC rebels in Colombia as part of negotiations to free Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages.

The Red Brigades, a Marxist-Leninist group formed in the 1970s, sought to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle and to separate Italy from the Western alliance.

Among their most notorious actions was the kidnapping and murder of Italy's former Christian Democrat prime minister Aldo Moro.

Napolitano has in the past pardoned some former militants: in May 2006 he granted an amnesty to Ovidio Bompressi on health grounds. Bompressi was serving a 22-year sentence for murdering a police commissioner in 1972.

[AFP / Expatica]

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