Timeline: how Cesare Battisti fled Italian justice for almost four decades

Italian former leftist militant Cesare Battisti, wanted in his country for four murders in the 1970s, has been arrested in Bolivia and extradited home after years on the run. Here are the key dates in the saga up to his arrest and extradition.

Timeline: how Cesare Battisti fled Italian justice for almost four decades
Cesare Battisti after being released from jail in Brazil in 2011. Photo: Evaristo SA/AFP

Arrest in Italy

In June 1979 Battisti, a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, is arrested in Milan as part of an investigation into the murder of a jeweller in the city. He is sentenced in May 1981 to 12 years and 10 months in prison for being a member of an armed group and receiving weapons.

In October the same year he escapes from prison near Rome and flees, first to France and then to Mexico in 1982.


Novelist in France

In 1985 France's socialist president Francois Mitterrand pledges not to extradite former far-left Italian militants who have turned their back on their past.

Battisti returns to France in 1990 and embarks on a writing career, penning a string of noir novels. In 1991, France rejects an Italian extradition request.

Signing books in Paris in March 2004, shortly before his arrest. Photo: Jean-Loup Gautreau/AFP

On March 31st, 1993, Milan's appeals court convicts Battisti in absentia of killing two Italian policemen, taking part in the murder of a butcher, and having helped plan the slaying of the Milan jeweller who died in a shootout which left his 14-year-old son in a wheelchair.

Italy submits another extradition request in 2002. Two years later, in February, Battisti is arrested in Paris and then released under legal supervision the next month. In June, France says it supports his extradition.

In October 2004 his appeal is rejected, and he flees to Brazil.

Brazilian refuge

Battisti is arrested in Rio de Janeiro on March 18th, 2007, and jailed in Brasilia. Italy again calls for his extradition. But Brazil grants Battisti political asylum on January 14th, 2009.

On November 18 Brazil's Supreme Court authorizes Battisti's extradition but leaves the final decision to the leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who rejects it on December 31st, 2010.

In a letter to the Brazilian parliament in February 2011 Battisti, who is in jail awaiting a new decision from the Supreme Court, denies ever harming or killing another human being.

Battisti at home in Rio di Janiero in 2012. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

On June 8th, 2011, Brazil's Supreme Court confirms Lula's decision to refuse the extradition request and Battisti is released.

Italy announces it will make a plea to the International Court of Justice while Brazil grants Battisti a permanent residence permit.

Spectre of extradition

In March 2015 a Brazilian federal judge orders Battisti's extradition either to Mexico or France.

In October 2017 he is placed in preventative detention after he is picked up at the border with Bolivia while trying to leave Brazil. He is quickly freed and returns to Sao Paulo. For the first four months of 2018 he is placed under electronic surveillance.

Battisti at home in Brazil after his 2017 arrest. Photo: Miguel Schincariol/AFP

During Brazil's presidential campaign, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro vows to “immediately” extradite Battisti to Italy if elected.

In mid-December Brazil's outgoing president signs an extradition order for Battisti after a judge orders his arrest. By then the Italian was nowhere to be found.

Arrest in Bolivia

Battisti is arrested in Bolivia late on January 12th “and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will probably be sent to Italy to serve a life sentence,” tweeted Filipe G. Martins, a senior aide on international affairs to Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1st.

Battisti, 64, is arrested in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Brazilian Federal Police sources tell Brazilian media.

Battisti shortly after his arrest in Bolivia. Photo: Bolivian Police/AFP

“Battisti has been arrested! Democracy is stronger than terrorism!” Italy's ambassador to Brazil Antonio Bernardini tweeted.

Extradited back home

After his arrest, Italy swiftly sends a plane carrying police and secret service agents to Bolivia to bring him back. A day later, an Italian-flagged Falcon 900 plane carrying Battisti lands at Rome's Ciampino airport.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede are waiting at the airport for his arrival.

Battisti, not wearing handcuffs, is escorted off the plane by a dozen policemen and faces life behind bars. 

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP


Italy rated among Europe’s most corrupt countries – again

Despite improvements, Italy is still seen as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe according to the annual index by Transparency International.

Italy rated among Europe's most corrupt countries - again
Rome city councillors hold banners reading "Honesty, Transparancy, Conspiracy of silence" as they protest alleged corruption in 2016. Photo: AFP

Global anti-corruption agency Transparency International has ranked Italy among the worst in Europe once again in its annual analysis of the perceived level of corruption in the public sector by country.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries worldwide from 0 to 100 with a higher number representing a better ranking.

Italy was given 56 points, the same as last year and still one of the lowest scores in Europe along with Georgia and Slovenia, which also scored 56.

This score puts Italy 41st out of 180 countries and well behind neighbouring France in 21st place, while Spain was ranked 35th.

Ranked worst among all European Union member states was Hungary, in 77th place with a score of 42.

Denmark held the desirable position of world’s least corrupt country, followed by Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Singapore.

Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland completed the top 10.

More than two-thirds of countries (68 per cent) scored below 50 and the average global score remained unchanged at 43. 

Though Italy has long been perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, the annual study has shown slight improvements in the country’s score over the past decade – until this year.

“All in all, the CPI shows that corruption levels have stagnated or worsened in 86 per cent of countries over the last decade,” said Transparency International.

With an average score of 66 out of 100, Western Europe and the EU still tops the CPI but progress in recent years has plateaued, the report stated.

Countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the CPI, while countries which violate civil liberties tend to score lower, Transparency International writes.

But even at the top end of the index, countries are failing to improve their records on public sector corruption, according to the report.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is the most widely-used global corruption ranking in the world and measures how corrupt experts and businesspeople perceive each country’s public sector to be, based on a minimum of three data sources drawn from institutions including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

It does not relate to corruption in the private sector, including money laundering and tax fraud.