Former Italian left-wing militant Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia

La Paz: The police on Saturday arrested former Italian left-wing militant Cesare Battisti, who fled to Bolivia following his extradition to Brazil and Italy.

Battisti, a former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism — an Italian far-left terrorist group- escaped from prison in Italy in 1981. Thereupon, he was convicted in absentia for four counts of murder. However, he had denied the charges levelled against him, despite acknowledging his membership with the Italian terrorist organisation.

“Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti was detained in Bolivia (Saturday night) and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will probably be sent to Italy to serve a life sentence,” Filipe G Martins, a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tweeted.

A source told Al Jazeera: “Battisti was arrested in the street, unarmed and he didn’t resist, responded to police in Portuguese and showed a Brazilian document confirming his identity. Now Italy is waiting for him.”

On December 15 last year, Brazil ‘s outgoing president Michel Temer had passed orders for the extradition of Battisti after the Supreme Federal Tribunal of Brazil ordered his arrest.

Fearing extradition charges, Battisti had initially escaped to France and then Mexico before fleeing to Brazil. His arrest in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 further instigated the Italian government to request Brazil for sending him back to his homeland.

In 2010, Battisti was granted asylum under the rule of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Battisti was detained in 2017 while trying to cross the Brazil-Bolivia border carrying a heavy amount of undeclared cash, approximately USD 7,500. He was, however, released within the next two days.

Following this incident, the Supreme Federal Tribunal levied charges of tax evasion and money laundering on the former militant, followed by a warrant.

During his campaign for the presidential elections last year, President Bolsonaro promised to extradite Battisti “immediately” to Italy.

According to Brazilian police sources, the 64-year-old Italian fugitive was reportedly arrested in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.