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France’s Macron says still hopes to extradite ex-Red Brigades to Italy

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that legal options were being explored to extradite 10 former leftwing extremists to face trial in Italy, after a French court blocked the request from Rome.

They are accused of taking part in the violence during the period in Italy known as the “Years of Lead” — referring to the numbers of bullets fired — from the late 1960s to mid-1980s.

As members of the ultra-leftist Red Brigades, they sought refuge in France under a policy set by former president Francois Mitterrand, who offered them protection from extradition if they renounced violence and had not been accused of bloodshed.

But Macron gave his green light last year for the extradition of the 10 former extremists, in a bid to remove a longstanding irritant in Franco-Italian ties.

“The policy that France has always applied… is to reject extradition requests for those not involved in bloodshed,” Macron told journalists in Madrid, where he attended a NATO summit meeting.

“In this case, these people were implicated in bloodshed and deserve to be judged on Italian soil. It’s the respect we owe to the families of the victims and the Italian nation,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Paris appeals court said that even if the suspects had taken part in violence including murder or attempted kidnappings, they also had a right to privacy and family life after years of living in France.

The court also deemed it was not certain they would have fair trials in Italy, where many people accuse France of effectively shielding criminals from prosecution.

Macron said his advisers were weighing an appeal to the Court of Cassation, France’s highest court for criminal and civil cases, and “other legal avenues that would allow us to go farther.”

Italian Justice Minister Marta Cartabia said Wednesday that she was waiting for the “reasons behind a ruling that indiscriminately denies all extraditions.”

“This is a judgement long awaited by the victims and the entire country, concerning a dramatic and still painful page of our history,” Cartabia said in a statement.