March 12, 2015 / 11:49 PM / 3 years ago

Brazil arrests former Italian guerrilla pending deportation

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Federal Police on Thursday arrested an Italian former leftist guerrilla wanted for murder in his country and were holding him pending possible deportation to France, a police spokesman said.

Former Italian guerrilla Cesare Battisti leaves the prison in Brasilia June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Cesare Battisti, who faces life imprisonment in Italy for four murder convictions from the 1970s, was granted asylum in Brazil after former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refused an extradition request in 2010, a decision that upset relations between Brazil and Italy.

Last week a judge in Brasilia annulled Battisti’s visa and ordered that he be deported, ruling that he should not have been given residence in Brazil because he was a convicted criminal in his country.

Battisti, age 60, was arrested on Thursday afternoon at his home in Embu das Artes, a suburb of Sao Paulo, by police acting on the deportation order, the spokesman said.

“He will probably be deported to France, where he was living last,” spokesman Leonardo Cavalcanti said.

Battisti’s lawyer said his client will appeal against the deportation order on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

It is not clear whether Battisti would face imminent deportation, given that Brazil’s legal system allows for multiple appeals. His extradition case cannot be reopened.

Battisti, 60, escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 and lived in France before fleeing to Brazil to avoid extradition to Italy. He was arrested in Brazil in 2007 on an extradition request that was upheld by the Supreme Court but denied by Lula on his last day in office in 2010.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Leslie Adler and Steve Orlofsky

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