Brazil grants residence to Italian ex-militant

Brazil has issued a residence permit to a freed Italian ex-militant, Cesare Battisti.

Brasilia: Brazil issued a residence permit on Wednesday to a freed Italian ex-militant, officials said, two weeks after the Supreme Court sparked a row with Rome by turning down its extradition request.

"The National Council on Immigration on Wednesday gave Cesare Battisti permission to stay in Brazil for an indefinite period," the agency said.

The move is set to re-ignite the row with Italy, after the Brazilian court refused to extradite Battisti.

"The result will be sent to the Ministry of Justice to implement the granting of permanency," it added. The document is a prerequisite for receiving a permanent resident visa, Brazilian media reported.

In an official statement released by his lawyers, Battisti said he hopes to "return to a normal life and continue to write novels and see the end of this persecution that has lasted years”.

The former Italian activist remained "tranquil" as he received the news that he had been granted the permit, his lawyers said in the statement. They added Battisti will respect his duties as a foreign resident "to the letter”.

One of the lawyers for Battisti, Eduardo Mendonca, said that with the Council`s decision, the permit is now "no more than a question of bureaucracy”.

The decision had been widely expected given the June 09 release of Battisti, who had been imprisoned for four years near Brasilia pending a resolution of the extradition battle.

In a gesture of protest, Italy recalled its Brazil ambassador and announced it will appeal to the International Court in The Hague, arguing Brasilia violated international treaties signed between the two nations.

Battisti, 56, was convicted by an Italian court in 1993 and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for four murders in the 1970s when he was a left-wing activist.

He was convicted of murdering a prison guard and a police investigator, as well as being an accomplice in the murder of a butcher and organising an attack on a jewellery shop that left one man dead.

He had escaped from an Italian jail, and led a life on the run, always protesting his innocence.

Battisti was granted political refugee status by Brazil in January 2009, in a move that effectively halted extradition proceedings against him.

But eight months later, the Supreme Court nullified that decision and said it favoured extraditing him to Italy, while ruling that then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should be the final arbiter.

In December 2010, Lula, in his last moments in office, enraged Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi by denying the extradition.

The Italian government appealed, leading to this month`s judgment.

Bureau Report

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