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Brazil Supreme Court decision to reject extradition for the Italian ex terrorist Cesare Battisti could have heavy consequences on diplomatic relations between Italy and Brazil.
The sentence passed by the Brazilian Court just confirmed the decision of December 2010 of the former President Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva, who announced on his last effective day as president his refusal to extradite Battisti.
Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, has defined the sentence of release shameful, and he said it was like “a slap in the face of the whole democratic world that fights terrorism”. The fist reaction of Italy was the recall of its ambassador in Brasilia Gherardo La Francesca, to discuss and study in depth the judicial bilateral agreements between the two countries, and to decide the steps to take to reverse the decision.
“What we have failed to achieve through the national judicial route we can achieve through the international judicial route,” declared the Foreign Minister announcing Italy’s intention to appeal to The Hague International Court of Justice. Also Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and other Italian officials and politicians, condemned and criticized the Brazilian Supreme Court decision.
Brazilian former President Lula da Silva, cancelled his official visit to Italy this week, to avoid possible protests and disorders. During the Beach Volley World Championship, which is now taking place in Italy, a group of Italian protesters threw oranges at the Brazilian national team players, as a sign of disappointment for the decision on Battisti’s case.
Cesare Battisti, member of the Italian far-left militant group, Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC) during the turbulent period of the so-called “anni di piombo” (years of lead), has been convicted of four murders committed in the ‘70s and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Italian Court. He escaped from Italy in 1981, after the first sentence for participation in armed group, first to France and later to Mexico, where he devoted himself to the writer activity. He returned to France in 1990 where he spent several years as a free man until 2004, when after the French government decided to arrest him and extradite him, he escaped to Brazil. There he was arrested in 2007, and in 2009 Brazilian government granted him the status of political refugee, until their final decision and subsequent release on 9th of June.
During all the years he was in hiding, Battisti always denied having committed any of the murders he was charged with. His defending counsels challenge the decision of the Italian Court, asserting that there isn’t any proof of Battisti’s guilt, and that the sentence was based only on the declarations of Pietro Mutti, a militant of PAC who accused his fellow PAC member in order to obtain a penalty reduction for himself. Many intellectuals, writers, journalists, politicians and NGOs’ representatives in several countries supported and still support Cesare Battisti.
On the contrary, the relatives of the victims and some politicians in Italy now express outrage and push to reverse the decision of the Brazilian Court. Meanwhile in Rome the protests goes on; vice-minister of transports Roberto Castelli, refused to sign the air transports bilateral agreement with Brazil, as “a sign of protest towards a country which showed no respect for Italy,” he said.
The relations between the two countries seem to be deteriorating more and more as a result of the Battisti Case’s conclusion.