BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police arrested on Thursday an Italian former leftist guerrilla wanted for murder in his country, but released him hours later after an injunction suspended his deportation.
Cesare Battisti faces life imprisonment in Italy for four murder convictions. He has denied involvement in the murders.
He was granted asylum in Brazil by the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who refused an Italian extradition request in 2010, a decision that upset relations between the two countries.
Last week, a lower court 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, aged 60, was arrested on Thursday afternoon at his home in Embu das Artes, a suburb of Sao Paulo, a Federal Police spokesman said.
He was freed seven hours later after his lawyer filed an injunction suspending the deportation order pending appeal.
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 was a member of an armed group called the Armed Proletarians for Communism in the late 1970s.
Battisti escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 and lived in France before fleeing to Brazil in 2004 to avoid being extradited back 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; Additional reporting by Nacho Doce; Editing by Leslie Adler, Steve Orlofsky and Paul Tait