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Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia

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

Italian former leftist guerrilla Cesare Battisti, convicted of murder in his home country, has been arrested in Bolivia and will be extradited to Italy, a Brazilian official said.

“He will soon arrive in Brazil and from here will be transferred to Italy to serve a life sentence,” Filipe G. Martins, a senior aide on international affairs to President Jair Bolsonaro, tweeted.

Battisti, long sought by Italy, faces life in prison in his home country, where he was convicted of four murders committed in the 1970s.

He escaped from prison in 1981 and lived in France before fleeing to Brazil to avoid being extradited.

He spent years in Brazil as a refugee, backed by former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. However, Bolsonaro, who took office on 1 January, pledged to send him back to Italy and a Brazilian Supreme Court judge ordered his arrest in December.

In a statement on Sunday, Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini thanked the police and all those involved in the capture of Battisti.

“I thank with all my heart the president Jair Bolsonaro and the new Brazilian government for the changed political climate,” he said.

The Italian ambassador in Brazil Antonio Bernardini tweeted “Battisti has been captured! Democracy is stronger than terrorism”.

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