Brazilian president approves extradition of Italian militant

FILE PHOTO: Italian former leftist guerrilla Cesare Battisti leaves the headquarters of Federal Police in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

BRASÍLIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Michel Temer on Friday signed an extradition order for Italian militant fugitive Cesare Battisti wanted for murder in Italy since the 1970s, his press office said.

The order follows a decision from Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn an injunction that was preventing the extradition of the former left-wing guerrilla.

Brazilian police said they have not located Battisti, who was living in a coastal town in southern Brazil.

Battisti’s lawyer Igor Tamasauskas told Reuters he had filed an appeal against the Supreme Court decision, seeking to block another attempt to extradite his client.

Battisti faces life in prison in Italy where he was convicted of four murders committed when he belonged to a guerrilla group called Armed Proletarians for Communism. He escaped from prison in 1981 and lived in France before fleeing to Brazil to avoid being extradited.

The Italian government almost obtained his extradition in 2010 but leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva granted Battisti asylum on his last day in office that year.

Brazil’s incoming far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan. 1, has said he would immediately extradite Battisti.

Temer agreed to extradite him last year, but Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux upheld Battisti’s asylum status after he was arrested trying to cross the border into Bolivia.

Fux on Thursday revoked his earlier injunction, saying the extradition should be a presidential decision, since the Supreme Court had already ruled for Battisti to be sent back to Italy in 2009.

Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Marcelo Teixeira; writing by Anthony Boadle; editing by Grant McCool and Richard Chang

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