La Paz: The Bolivian government on Sunday extradited Cesare Battisti, the former Italian left-wing militant, who is wanted by Italy for four murders in the European country in the 1970s.
Confirming the development, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that Battisti was handed over to Italian authorities and a chartered plane had departed from Bolivia for Rome.
“The plane carrying Cesare Battisti took off now, heading for Italy. I am proud and moved,” he tweeted in Italian.
Battisti was arrested in Bolivia on Saturday after an international police squad tracked him to the South American country, following his extradition to Brazil and Italy.
Battisti, a former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism, an outlawed 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.
On December 15 last year, Brazil’s outgoing president Michel Temer had passed orders for Battisti’s extradition 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, the Italian fugitive was granted asylum under the rule of then Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Battisti was detained in 2017 while trying to cross the Brazil-Bolivia border carrying a huge amount of undeclared cash, amounting to approximately USD 7,500. He was, however, released within the next two days.
During his campaign for the Brazilian presidential elections last year, incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro promised to extradite Battisti “immediately” to Italy.