Italian ex-militant Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia

Left-wing Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti, who was on the run from Brazilian authorities, has been captured in Bolivia, an adviser to President Jair Bolsonaro said Friday.

Battisti, a founding member of far-left Italian radical group Armed Proletarians for Communism, was convicted in absentia in 1993 of four political killings committed in the 1970s and sentenced to life in prison. The 63-year-old has maintained his innocence.

Battisti was detained late Saturday in Bolivia "and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will probably be sent to Italy to serve a life sentence," tweeted Filipe Martins.

Bolsonaro's 'little gift' to Italy

Bolsonaro, who was inaugurated this month, had previously expressed his intention to allow Battisti's extradition as a "little gift." The Brazilian government, then under former leftist President Luiz Inacio, refused an extradition request in 2011.

Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, a lawmaker in the Chamber of Deputies, praised the arrest on Twitter.

"Brazil is no longer the land of outlaws. @matteosalvinimi, the 'little gift' is on his way," he wrote addressing Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini praised the Bolivian police and the Brazilian government. He called Battisti a "delinquent who doesn't deserve to live comfortably on the beach but rather to finish his days in prison."

A life on the run

Italy has repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, after he escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 and fled to France and then Mexico before arriving in Brazil, where he settled in 2004.

He has lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former President Lula da Silva, who is now in prison for corruption.

Brazilian judges in December ordered the arrest of the Battisti and an extradition decree was signed a day later by outgoing president Michel Temer.

law/rc (ADP, dpa)