Italy to contest Battisti Brazil release

2011-06-09 12:01

Rome - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed "great regret" on Thursday over Brazil's release of ex-militant Cesare Battisti, as Rome said it would go to the international court in The Hague over the decision.

Battisti, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of four people in the 1970s, walked free early on Thursday from Brazil's Papuda maximum-security prison after the country's high court denied Italy's request to extradite him.

In a statement, Berlusconi said Brazil's decision to free Battisti "denies justice to the Italian people and in particular to Battisti's victims".

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: "Italy plans immediately to activate every possible judicial mechanism... in particular through the International Court of Justice in The Hague."

Brazil's Supreme Court rejected the extradition to Italy of the former far-left militant and ordered his immediate release in a case that has heightened tensions with Rome.

Italy will "seek to overturn the decision that it holds is not in accordance with... the requirements of international law," Frattini said in a statement.

The decision "appears to breach international agreements between the two countries, as well as the profound and age-old blood and friendship ties," he added.

Berlusconi also stressed Italy's intention to act to ensure that international agreements between the two countries "bound by friendship and solidarity" were "respected".

Battisti, a member of the radical Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC) group, became an international fugitive after escaping from an Italian jail in 1981 and spent decades evading justice living in Mexico, France and Brazil.