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Fugitive Italian ex-militant turned novelist arrested in Brazil

By JC Finley
Fugitive Italian ex-militant turned novelist arrested in Brazil
One of the last official acts of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, shown here in 2010, was to deny an extradition request from Italy to return Cesare Battisti. File Photo by Andrew Harrer/Pool/UPI | License Photo

SAO PAULO, March 13 (UPI) -- Cesare Battisti, a fugitive convicted of murdering four people in the late 1970s, was arrested Thursday evening in Brazil after a judge revoked his residence permit.

The former left-wing militant fled to Brazil more than a decade ago after living as a fugitive in France and Mexico, where be became a novelist. In 2009, Brazil granted him political asylum so that he would avoid "political persecution" if deported to Italy. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva supported the asylum decision, denying an extradition request on his last day in office in 2010.

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Now facing possible deportation, Battisti would likely be sent either to France or Mexico, which could then extradite him to Italy.

Shortly after his arrest Thursday, Battisti was released pending an appeal filed by his attorney, Igor Sant'Anna Tamasauskas.

Battisti has denied he ever killed anyone. "I am guilty, as I have often said, of having participated in an armed group with a subversive aim and of having carried weapons. But I never shot anyone," he wrote in a 2006 publication.

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While awaiting trial in 1981, the radical Armed Proletarians for Communism member escaped, first to France, then Mexico, before settling in Brazil in 2004. An Italian court convicted him in absentia in 1990 for the murders of four people between 1978 and 1979 and sentenced him to life in prison.

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