Fugitive Italian ex-militant Battisti extradited from Bolivia

APF Former communist militant Cesare Battisti was handed over to Italian authorities and put on an airplane heading for Rome on Sunday after an international police squad tracked him down and arrested him in Bolivia, where he had been on the run.

The airplane left the Santa Cruz international airport in Bolivia shortly before 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) after local authorities handed over the 64-year-old fugitive to their Italian counterparts.

"The airplane with Battisti has just left for Italy: I'm proud and delighted," Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted.

Battisti was arrested in Santa Cruz late late Saturday in an operation carried out by a joint team of Italian and Bolivian officers with the help of Italy's counterterrorism section, Italian state police said.

He had spent almost four decades on the run.

Jailed in 1979 for belonging to the outlawed Armed Proletarians for Communism group, Battisti had been on the run since escaping prison in 1981 and was convicted in absentia of four murders in Italy in the 1970s.

Italy had repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, who lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), himself now in prison for corruption.

When he was arrested, Battisti, 64, gave up without a struggle after reportedly being caught disguised in a false beard and mustache, Italian interior ministry sources said.

"I just spoke to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on the telephone. I wanted to thank him on behalf of the whole Italian government for the effective collaboration that led to Battisti's capture," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte posted on Facebook.

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