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13 Jan, 2019 13:53

Bolsonaro’s ‘little gift’ to Salvini: Italy’s most-wanted fugitive caught after decades on the run

Bolsonaro’s ‘little gift’ to Salvini: Italy’s most-wanted fugitive caught after decades on the run

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has praised Brazil’s new government for its support in extraditing an Italian ex-communist militant, who went on the run for almost 30 years after four murders were committed in the 1970s.

Writing on his Facebook page on Sunday, Salvini thanked Brazil’s recently inaugurated right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his government for a change in the “political climate” that allowed for Cesare Battisti’s arrest and future extradition to Italy. “The fun is over,” he added, promising that Battisti would end his days in jail rather than having a “comfortable life on the beach.”

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Battisti, 64, was detained in neighboring Bolivia late on Saturday. He had previously settled in Brazil after being granted refugee status by former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2010. However, he fled and disappeared in December following the revocation of his status and the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Arrested in 1979 for his membership of the far-left Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC) terrorist group, Battisti escaped in 1981 while awaiting trial in connection with four murders. He denies all charges. Prior to his stint in Brazil, he previously lived in France and Mexico and made a successful career writing police novels.

Announcing the capture on Twitter, an aide to Bolsonaro said on Sunday that Battisti would soon be transferred to Brazil ahead of his probable extradition to Italy to stand trial.

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However, a statement by the Italian government on Sunday said an airplane had already been sent by Rome to collect Battisti in Bolivia directly.

During his election campaign, former-army captain Bolsonaro reaffirmed his commitment to extraditing the “loved by the Brazilian left” Battisti if he was elected to office, tweeting in October that “Brazil deserves respect.”

In a tweet to Italy’s Salvini, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, wrote: “Brazil is no longer a land of bandits. The ‘little gift’ is coming.”

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