Brazilian court refuses to extradite murderer

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The Independent US

Brazil's highest court has ruled against extraditing Cesare Battisti, a former leftist rebel convicted of murdering four people in Italy in the 1970s, and ordered him freed from custody. The decision angered Rome, which intends to appeal to the International Court of Justice.

The Supreme Court upheld a decision taken by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in December just before he left office. President Lula had cited a clause in Brazil's extradition treaty with Italy that lets each government consider a petitioner's "personal condition". Over the years, Battisti has said he fears persecution in Italy.

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 while awaiting trial on four counts of murder, crimes allegedly committed when he was a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism. He was convicted in absentia in 1990, and sentenced to life in prison.

The Italian government has repeatedly called for Battisti to be extradited.

A group representing victims of terrorism urged Italy to refuse to participate in the next football World Cup in Brazil, while others called for a boycott of Brazilian products.

Italy's foreign ministry said it intended to press ahead with all legal means to obtain the extradition of Battisti, including an appeal to the international court in The Hague.

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