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The crimes that made Cesare Battisti one of Italy’s most wanted

Italy has been hunting the fugitive Cesare Battisti since the 1980s. So what did he actually do?

The crimes that made Cesare Battisti one of Italy's most wanted
Cesare Battisti arrives at Rome's Ciampino airport. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Former left-wing militant Cesare Battisti, who was extradited to Italy on Monday, is to serve out the rest of his life sentence after being convicted in 1981 of two murders and involvement in two others.

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Battisti, 64, has admitted to being part of the Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC), a radical group which staged a string of robberies and attacks, but has always denied responsibility for any deaths, painting himself as a political refugee.

Here are the details of the victims he was convicted of killing or helping to kill.

Pier Luigi Torregiani, jeweller

On February 16th, 1979, PAC militants shot dead Pier Luigi Torregiani at his Milan jeweller's shop in front of his teenaged son Alberto, who was wounded and paralysed in the shootout.

“Now the victims can rest in peace,” Alberto said on learning of Battisti's extradition.

Battisti was convicted of organising the killing, carried out after the jeweller killed a militant in self defence during a previous robbery.

Lino Sabbadin, butcher

On the same day, Battisti was an accomplice in the PAC murder of butcher and far-right militant Lino Sabbadin, 45, in Mestre, near Venice. The motive was the same as for the Torregiani killing: Sabbadin had killed a militant during an attempted robbery in 1978.

“I've waited 40 years for this moment,” said his son Adriano, aged 17 at the time of the attack, on learning of the extradition.

Antonio Santoro, prison guard

On June 6th, 1978, Battisti shot dead prison governor Santoro, 51, in Udine, northeastern Italy, for allegedly mistreating prisoners.

Andrea Campagna, police driver

On April 19th, 1979, Battisti shot dead Andrea Campagna, 24, a driver for the Digos anti-terrorist law enforcement agency.

“Andrea was a driver, not an investigator… They came from behind and shot him in the back of the head,” his brother Maurizio told La Repubblica newspaper.

Battisti was convicted of firing the bullet that killed Campagna, accused by the Marxists of torturing prisoners.

TIMELINE: How Cesare Battisti fled Italian justice for almost four decades


Photo: Evarista SA/AFP
 

CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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