Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Brazilian police have made 32 failed attempts recently to find and arrest Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti so he'll serve a life sentence for two murder charges, officials said.
A Brazilian court issued an arrest order last week and Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree authorizing Battisti's extradition, G1 Globo reported. The moves anticipated announced plans by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro to extradite him as soon as he takes office Jan. 1.
"We have some leads but obviously I cannot comment," federal police director Rogerio Galloro said in the G1 report. Battisti is considered a fugitive and will be captured, he added.
Galloro said police didn't try to arrest him before last week, as there was nothing against him in Brazil. In previous years, Battisti was captured three times by police but freed in all cases.
Police have searched the home of a former girlfriend and friends, Folha de Sao Paulo reported
Battisti was sentenced in absentia in the 1980s in a controversial process in Italy for two murders and being an accomplice in another two, but he's never been sent to Italy to face the sentence.
Battisti, who turned 64 on Tuesday, has written several crime novels and says he's innocent of the murder charges. He has lived freely in Brazil.
A Brazilian court approved an extradition request by the Italian government in 2009. The following year, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rejected it.
Bolsonaro said during his campaign he would "immediately" agree to extradite Battisti and met in early November with the Italian ambassador in Brazil, who later said Bolsonaro agreed with Italy on Battisti's case.
Battisti escaped an Italian jail nearly four decades ago while awaiting trial. He has admitted he was a member of a group named Armed Proletarians for Communism, but denies participation in any homicide.
Battisti previously lived in France, benefiting from a safe-haven offer made by former French President Francois Mitterrand to activists who'd renounced violence. France rejected an Italian extradition request in 1991.