Italy’s rightwing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, might have a trip to Brazil on the cards.
He said he ‘can’t wait’ to meet the new Brazilian president, who is known for his hatred of the left and as an apologist for Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship.
The new president-elect has also vowed to extradite Battisti, who has been living in the country for the past 14 years, as a “gift” to Italy.
“I’ll be happy to go personally to Brazil to go to catch the red terrorist Cesare Battisti and bring him back to his homeland”, Salvini said on Twitter, adding that he “can’t wait to meet the new president.”
63-year-old Battisti was convicted in absentia of taking part in four murders in Italy in the 1970s, on charges he has always denied.
Italy has repeatedly sought his extradition, and has been enraged by the protection afforded to Battisti by Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and then by the country’s Supreme Court.
But Lula is now in jail on corruption charges, and Brazil’s new hard-right president, who has vowed to see his left-wing political opponents removed from Italy or left to “rot in jail”, wants Battisti extradited.
“The gift is on its way!” wrote Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a member of Brazil’s Congress, in a jubilant tweet celebrating the global rise of right-wing parties.
Il regalo è in arrivo! Grazie per il supporto, la destra diventa più forte?????? https://t.co/fFqRRIjBQQ
— Eduardo Bolsonaro 17 (@BolsonaroSP) October 29, 2018
He thanked the Italian politician, who leads the anti-immigrant League party, for his support during the far-right candidate’s campaign.
Speaking to AFP, Battisti said he was “not worried” because a decision on his case would not be in Bolsonaro’s hands.
“It's not the executive who decides that right now. It's the judiciary,” he said, pointing out that the Supreme Court must rule on his case.
Cesare Battisti in Brazil. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP
Battisti’s extradition presents Brazil with a “legal headache”, wrote Italy’s Rai News website on Monday.
The fact that the fugitive Italian has a five-year-old Brazilian son “further complicates his extradition”, the website added.
Italy has been trying to recapture Battisti since he escaped from prison near Rome in 1981, fleeing first to France and then to Brazil.
A former member of a leftist militant group, Battisti escaped from an Italian jail in 1981 while awaiting trial. He has written a series of crime novels during his years on the run, got married and started a family, and claims to be reformed.
He admits to having been part of an armed far-left militant group but he has repeatedly denied responsibility for any deaths.
He was granted asylum by a former Brazilian president in 2011, a decision that Italy has repeatedly asked Brazil to reconsider.
The former communist militant has said he faces “torture” and death if he returns to Italy, claiming to have received death threats from Italian police, military and politicians.