Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro claimed he would do “everything legally in my power” to authorize the extradition of Italian Marxist terrorist Cesare Battisti, given asylum under socialist administrations, in remarks Wednesday.
Battisti first escaped from an Italian jail in 1981 while awaiting trial for the murder of two people as a member of the Marxist terrorist organization Armed Proletarians for Communism.
He was later convicted in absentia of murdering two police officers, involvement in the assassination of a butcher, and aiding the murder of a jeweler who died in an attack that left his 13-year-old son in a wheelchair. The four murders were carried out between June 1978 and April 1979.
After fleeing France and Mexico for many years, he eventually escaped to Brazil, where the government of socialist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva granted him asylum after serving a short jail sentence.
“He [ex-president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva] decided, during the last day of his presidency, to give refugee status to an Italian terrorist named Cesare Battisti,” Bolsonaro said during a TV interview on Monday night. “We will do whatever is legal to return this terrorist to Italy.”
Bolsonaro first revealed his plans last month, reportedly telling Italian Ambassador Antonio Bernardini that he would no longer provide protection for the 63-year-old fugitive.
“We already have lots of bandits in Brazil, now take away this criminal,” he allegedly told Bernardini at a ceremony for the 25th anniversary of the Comunità Italiana Italian-Brazilian magazine. “If it were for me, Battisti would already be in Italy. He was protected by leftwing governments, but that won’t happen again. We know how hard this case has been for Italy.”
His efforts have been very well received by Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, who has declared himself a supporter of Bolsonaro. After congratulating the president-elect on his victory last month, Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo sent a Twitter message to Salvini announcing that the “gift is on its way.”
Il regalo è in arrivo! Grazie per il supporto, la destra diventa più forte🇹🇷🙏👍 https://t.co/fFqRRIjBQQ
— Eduardo Bolsonaro 17 (@BolsonaroSP) October 29, 2018
“I can’t wait to meet the new president Bolsonaro,” Salvini replied. “I will be glad to come to Brazil in person, also to go fetch the red terrorist Cesare Battisti and carry him back to an Italian jail.”
The punishment of Marxist terrorists stands in stark contrast to Brazil’s previous administrations, indicative of a wider shift after he was elected last month on a promise to enact a radical crackdown on crime and clean up the country’s endemic leftist corruption. Last month, Bolsonaro announced his intention to purge left-wing “outlaws,” warning that they can either flee the country or go to jail.
“Either they go overseas, or they go to jail,” he declared at a campaign rally in São Paulo. “These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a clean up the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.”