Cesare Battisti (1954-)

Cesare Battisti (1954-)

Cesare Battisti (born 18 December 1954) is an Italian author of thrillers, and a former member of the terrorist Armed Proletarians for Communism ("Proletari Armati per il Comunismo" - PAC), a far left group which supported violent revolution during Italy's period of terrorist attacks, also called"anni di piombo" ("Years of Lead"). He was condemned for committing several murders in Italy, but he has always denied them. After having left behind armed struggle and fled, as several others Italian suspected activists, to France, protected by the "Mitterrand doctrine", Cesare Battisti became the author of several novels, including the semi-autobiographical book, "The Last Bullets". After the de facto repeal of the Mitterrand doctrine in 2002, he fled France to avoid possible extradition. He was arrested in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 18 March, 2007 by Brazilian and French police.

Youth and PAC membership

Cesare Battisti was born in 1954 at Sermoneta, near Latina. He left the classical lyceum he was attending to in 1971, engaged in petty crime, and then moved on to more serious offenses. Between 1974 and 1976 he was arrested for theft and bank robberies ("expropriations"), and sentenced to prison.

In 1976 he moved to Milan, and became a member of the PAC, an autonomist Marxist group which conducted armed struggle, and which had a "horizontal," decentralized structure, opposed to the centralist organisation of the Red Brigades (BR). The organisation, which counted approximatively 60 members, had its roots in a district of the south of Milan, called Barona. Four assassinations were committed by the PAC: Antonio Santoro, a prison guard accused by the PAC of mistreatments on prisoners (on June 6, 1978 in Udine), jeweler Pierluigi Torregiani (on February 16, 1979 in Milan), Lino Sabadin, a butcher and perhaps supporter of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) (the same day and nearly the same hour, near Mestre), and DIGOS agent Andrea Campagna, who had participated in the first arrestations concerning the Torregiani case (on April 19, 1979 in Milan). The PAC also engaged in several robberies, in the tradition of propaganda of the deed.

The murder of Torregiani and Sabbadin had been decided because both of them had killed a robber in the past, thus as an act of armed opposition to self-defense by attacked persons. [ [http://www.lexpress.fr/info/france/dossier/battisti/dossier.asp?ida=426758 «La culpabilité de Battisti repose sur des preuves»] , interview with public prosecutor Armando Spataro, in "L'Express", 15 March 2004 fr icon] . Torregiani was killed in front of his 13 years old son, who was shot as well. The son survived and is now paraplegic. The matter of who shot Torregiani's son is still debated: the media reported that he was shot by the attackers, some sources, including writer Valerio Evangelisti, maintain that he was shot by his father in a tragic error.Valerio Evangelisti, [http://cesarebattisti.free.fr/articles/50questions.html "Valerio Evangelisti répond à 50 questions"] fr icon ] . The paraplegic Torregiani considers now that, in any case, Battisti is responsible for the shooting, and should purge his sentence in jail: "It's not about the person of Cesare Battisti - he declared to the national press agency ANSA - It's in order that everyone understands that, sooner or later, those who have committed such serious crimes should pay for their faults." [it [http://www.ansa.it/opencms/export/site/notizie/rubriche/approfondimenti/visualizza_new.html_2113687881.html Torregiani: A Cesare Battisti chiederei solo perche] , 18/03/2007]

Cesare Battisti has stated in several texts that he abandoned armed struggle after Prime Minister Aldo Moro's kidnapping and subsequent murder in May 1978, carried out by the Second Red Brigades led by Mario Moretti.

First trial and evasion

Cesare Battisti was arrested and jailed in Italy on February 26, 1979, sentenced to 12 years and a half of prison for minor crimes. He was condemned on the ground of material evidences [" [http://www.lefigaro.fr/litteraire/20060420.LIT000000278_battisti_persiste_et_signe.html Battisti persiste et signe] ", Guillame Perrault] and testimonies provided by two "collaboratori di giustizia" (defendants who turned witnesses for the prosecution) who benefitted from lighter condemnations for their testimony [http://www.ldh-toulon.net/spip.php?article1940 Cesare Battisti : dire la vérité, respecter les droits] , Human Rights League (LDH), public statement of March 17, 2007 fr icon] . The status of "collaboratore di giustizia", also popularly known as "pentito" was established by anti-terrorist legislation enacted during this period.

PAC members organised his evasion on October 4, 1981, while he was in Frosinone's prison . Battisti escaped to Paris, but left for Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico, very shortly afterwards. While in Mexico, he founded a literary review "Via Libre", which is still active nowadays, [http://www.vialibre5.com/ "Via Libre 5", Cesare Battisti (dir.)] ] . He also participated to the creation of the Book Festival of Managua (Nicaragua) and organised the first Graphic Arts Biennal in Mexico. Cesare Battisti began to write under the impulsion of Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and collaborated to various newspapers.

Second trial

Pietro Mutti, one of the leaders of the PAC who had been condemned "in absentia" for Santoro's assassination (the prison surveillant), was arrested in 1982. He became a "collaboratore di giustizia" and his testimony, which helped him reduce his sentence, implicated Battisti, and an alleged accomplice , in the four assassinations claimed by the PAC. His trial was thus reopened in 1987, and he was condemned in absentia in 1988 for two assassinations (Santoro and DIGOS agent Campagna) and complicity of murder in the two other (jeweler Torregiani and butcher Sabbadin, assassinated the same day in two different towns, in order to increase the impact of the crimes on public opinion). The court condemned him, in appeal, to a life-sentence in 1995. Two years before, the Court of Cassation had quashed, on procedural grounds, the case against Battisti's alleged accomplice, accused by Pietro Mutti.Valerio Evangelisti, [http://cesarebattisti.free.fr/articles/50questions.html "Valerio Evangelisti Repond À 50 Questions"] fr icon ]

Battisti's return to France

Ten years earlier, French socialist president François Mitterrand indicated that leftist Italian activists who were not indicted for violent crimes and had given up violence would not be extradited to Italy; this became known as the "Mitterrand doctrine". Many Italian alleged terrorists had fled to France during the '70s-'80s. Trusting in this declaration, Battisti returned to France in 1990, where he was arrested on Italy's request in 1991, when his sentence was confirmed in the Court of Cassation. He thus passed five months in Fresnes prison, before being freed after the extradition request was rejected by the Paris Appeal Court on May 29, 1991. French justice concluded that the anti-terrorist legislation enacted in Italy "went against the French principles of law," which, along with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), prohibited in particular to extradite a person condemned "in absentia" if that person had not been in a condition to adequately defend himself during his trial . But after this decision, the French government rejected the Mitterrand doctrine and three French Courts ruled for Battisti's extradition. On March 18, 2005, the French Conseil d'Etat (the French Supreme Court in administrative law), ruling ultimately for Battisti's extradition, affirmed clearly that the Italian legislation did not went against the French principles of law. The Conseil established:

"Seeing the conrcumstances of some of the charges held against Mr Battisti, which led to the cited sentences, are partly based on statements by """repented" witnesses, is not contrary to French public order and do not constitute a disregard by Italian authorities of the requirements of Article 6 of the European Human Rights and fundamental liberties safeguard convention (...)"
[ "Considérant que la circonstance que certaines des charges retenues contre M. Battisti, et qui ont donné lieu aux condamnations précitées, reposent pour partie sur des déclarations de témoins " repentis ", n'est pas contraire à l'ordre public français et ne constitue pas une méconnaissance, par les autorités italiennes, des stipulations de l'article 6 de la convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales (...)" Conseil d'Etat's http://www.conseil-etat.fr/ce/jurispd/index_ac_ld0515.shtml ] ECtHR, then, confirmed those decisions and ruled that the Italian trial in absentia in the Battisti's case was fair under its provisions.

After his liberation, Battisti, in 1991, lived in Paris, where he wrote his first novel, "Les Habits d'ombre" ("Shadow clothes"). Two thrillers, "L'Ombre rouge" ("Red shadow") and "Buena onda", took as scene the Parisian world of Italian fugitives from justice. Another major novel, titled "Dernières cartouches" ("Last bullets"), takes place in Italy during the "years of lead".

In 1997, among other alleged left-wing terrorists which had fled to France, he asked for an amnesty for their crimes to Italy's President of the time, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (DC). The request was denied.

A diplomatic dispute between France and Italy

Over the years, Italy asked France several times to arrest and extradite Italian left-wing activists involved in court cases in Italy and who have fled to France. On September 11, 2002 Battisti's extradition - among others - was again requested during the meeting in Paris between Italy's Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli (Northern League) and France's Minister Dominique Perben (RPR).

On February 10, 2004, the French government arrested him on Italy's request and planned to extradite him to Italy. On June 30, 2004, the Paris Court of Appeal gave a favorable opinion for his extradition. An appeals in the Court of Cassation was filed against this opinion and another recourse introduced before the "Conseil d'État" against the extradition decree. President Jacques Chirac stated on July 2, 2004 that he would not oppose the French justice's decision to extradite him. Justice Minister Dominique Perben confirmed Paris' new position: "There is no ambiguity. There has been a change of attitude from France, and I support it," (in reference to the "Mitterrand doctrine"), among other reasons "because of the European construction." [http://www.ump.assemblee-nationale.fr/article.php3?id_article=3262 Richard Mallié, deputy of the Bouches-du-Rhône, "Question au gouvernement : Extradition de Cesare Battisti", 26/10/2004] fr icon ] . [http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/033/article_17832.asp Clarisse Vernhes, « Paris prête à extrader d’autres «brigadistes»] , in "RFI", 2002 fr icon ]

As of 2007, only Paolo Persichetti, former member of the "Unità Comuniste Combattenti", among the 200 formers terrorists requested by Italy, was extradited (in August 2002). He was eventually condemned to 22 years of prison. Minister Edouard Balladur had signed Persichetti's extradition decree in 1994; it was validated by the "Conseil d'Etat" the following year. According to RFI radio station, the Perben-Castelli agreement was divided in three parts: all events before 1982 would be prescribed "except in case of exceptional gravity"; facts between 1982 and 1993 would be "examined on a case by case basis", in function of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) principle and of the "conditions in which the trials took place in Italy." Still claiming his innocence, Cesare Battisti then failed to check in at the local police station, while on parole, on August 21, 2004 and entered again, twenty years later, clandestinity. On October 13, 2005, the Cassation Court upheld the Paris Court of Appeal's judgment, as did the "Conseil d'Etat" on March 18, 2005.On 18th March 2007 Battisti has been arrested in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The "Battisti affair"

As of 2007, Cesare Battisti denies having carried out any of the murders he has been sentenced for.

Defenders of Battisti, among whom the Human Rights League (LDH), consider that France's decision to extradite Battisti was illegal, since Battisti would not have the right to a new trial, after having been judged "in absentia".But the alleged right of a new trial is not a sufficient guarantee for the defendant, as clearly ruled the ECtHR in the case of Krombach v. France, application no. 29731/96, and also the article 6 of ECHR, the juridical ground of Battisti's claim against extradition, doesn't order a new trial. The whole ECHR doesn't establish an alleged right to a new trial, after a trial in absentia. The Battisti's claim involved the defendant knowledge of the trial. The Battisti's lawyers argued that the defendant has not been able to know that in Italy there was a trial against him and so his rights were violated.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in its December 2006 decision, rejected Battisti's claim that France's extradition decision was illegitimate. The Court considered that:

The applicant had patently been informed of the accusation against him and of the progress of the proceedings before the Italian courts, notwithstanding the fact that he had absconded. Furthermore, the applicant, who had deliberately chosen to remain on the run after escaping from prison, had received effective assistance during the proceedings from several lawyers specially appointed by him. Hence, the Italian and subsequently the French authorities had been entitled to conclude that the applicant had unequivocally waived his right to appear and be tried in person. The French authorities had therefore taken due account of all the circumstances of the case and of the Court’s case-law in granting the extradition request made by the Italian authorities: manifestly ill-founded. [ European Court of Human Rights's [http://www.echr.coe.int/Eng/InformationNotes/INFONOTENo92.htm decision] (Sub art. 6, "claims inadmissible" : Life sentence following a conviction in absentia in "Battisti v. France," Information note n. 92) ]

The circumstances of his condemnation have been put in question. A movement claiming Battisti's innocence is active in the media and in public opinion (especially in France). Among the most vocal supporters of Battisti, writers Fred Vargas, Valerio Evangelisti and Bernard-Henri Lévy consider that the trials conducted in Italy were marked by irregularities. These irregularities allegedly involved the use of torture (we must report that Battisti's French lawyers have not used this peculiar charge, the violation of the article 3 ECHR, in their rejected claim to ECtHR), and the misuse of witnesses : according to Battisti's supporters, witnesses against Battisti were either affected by mental troubles, or were "collaboratori di giustizia", (that is, defendants testifying against other defendants in order to benefit from a reduced sentence. Those peculiar witnesses are also used by French justice, i.e. art. 132-78 French Code Penal). Battisti's supporters also claim that ballistic analysis and graphological expertises used in Italian court cases do in fact, contrary to what the courts considered, exonerate Battisti. Fred Vargas, [http://www.acontresens.com/forum/read.php?id_forum=1&id_topic=10160 « Cesare Battisti : A la recherche de la justice perdue »] in "La Règle du Jeu", n°30 (January 2006)] fr icon] Valerio Evangelisti, [http://cesarebattisti.free.fr/articles/50questions.html "Valerio Evangelisti Repond À 50 Questions"] fr icon ] Cesare Battisti, "Ma Cavale", 27/4/2006, Preface p. 13 fr icon]

Most of public opinion in Italy disagrees with those views, and Battisti's arrest in Brazil has been commented upon favourably in the media. "Rifondazione Comunista", however, considers that he should not be extradited, as he would not be granted the right to a new trial. In France, supporters of Battisti, such as Gilles Perrault, have called this arrest, a few weeks before the April 2007 presidential election, an "electoral feat," closely timed by the then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, candidate for the UMP conservative party. François Bayrou, candidate for the UDF right-of-center party, has called for a new trial, as well as members of the left-wing .

Recently the Union Syndicale de la Magistrature USM (the French left wing judges’ trade union) has supported the fairness of the Italian trial in absentia and has also confirmed the correctness of Battisti’s condemnation. The USMCommuniqué USM Affaire Battisti in http://usm2000.free.fr/article.php3?id_article=142] :

" "condamne le procédé consistent, dans une perspective purement idéologique, à discréditer une décision de justice rendues par une cour d’assises italienne, dans le strict respect des règles de procédure pénale (appel et cassation) s’agissant d’un accusé en fuite mais défendu à tous les stades de la procédure conformément au droit italien en vigueur."

DSSA's attempt to kidnap Battisti ?

In July 2005, the Italian press revealed the existence of the Department of Anti-terrorism Strategic Studies (DSSA), a "parallel police" created by Gaetano Saya, leader of "Destra Nazionale" neofascist party, and Riccardo Sindoca, two leaders of the National Union of the Police Forces ("Unpf"). Both claimed they were former members of Gladio, NATO's "stay-behind" paramilitary organizations involved in Italy's strategy of tension and various terrorist acts. According to "Il Messaggero", quoted by "The Independent",judicial sources declared that wiretaps suggested DSSA members had been planning to kidnap Cesare Battisti. [ cite news | title=Up to 200 Italian police 'ran parallel anti-terror force' | publisher=The Independent | date=2005-07-05 | url=http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article296897.ece (URL accessed on January 22, 2007) ]

Endnotes

Bibliography

*"Travestito da uomo" (French title: "Les habits d'ombre")
*"Nouvel an, nouvelle vie" (1994)
*"L'ombre rouge" (Italian title: "L'orma rossa"; 1995)
*"Buena onda" (1996)
*"Copier coller" (1997)
*"J'auri ta Pau" (1997)
*"L'ultimo sparo" (French title: "Dernières cartouches"; 1998)
*"Naples" (1999, short story anthology with works also by Jean-Jacques Busino, Carlo Lucarelli, Jean-Bernard Pouy and Tito Topin)
*"Jamais plus sans fusil" (2000)
*"Terres brûlées" (2000, editor)
*"Avenida Revolución" (2001)
*"Le Cargo sentimental" (2003)
*"Vittoria" (2003)
*"L'eau du diamant" (2006)
*"Ma cavale" (2006)

External links

* [http://www.vialibre5.com The website of Battisti's review, "Via Libre"] fr icon
* [http://www.la-bas.org/article.php3?id_article=174 Audio interview of Battisti, by Isabelle Sommier] , February 11, 2004, "France Inter" on Daniel Mermet's show fr icon
* [http://www.vittimeterrorismo.it/ The website of the "Associazione Italiana Vittime del Terrorismo e dell'Eversione Contro l'Ordinamento Costituzionale dello Stato" (Association of terror victims)] it icon


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  • Cesare Battisti (1954-) — Cesare Battisti (1954) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Battisti et Cesare Battisti. Cesare Battisti, né le 18 décembre 1954 à Sermoneta au sud de Rome, est un écrivain de romans noirs. Il est aussi un ancien membre d un groupe terroriste… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cesare Battisti (1954 - ) — Cesare Battisti (1954) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Battisti et Cesare Battisti. Cesare Battisti, né le 18 décembre 1954 à Sermoneta au sud de Rome, est un écrivain de romans noirs. Il est aussi un ancien membre d un groupe terroriste… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cesare battisti (1954-) — Cesare Battisti (1954) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Battisti et Cesare Battisti. Cesare Battisti, né le 18 décembre 1954 à Sermoneta au sud de Rome, est un écrivain de romans noirs. Il est aussi un ancien membre d un groupe terroriste… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cesare Battisti (1954) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Battisti et Cesare Battisti. Cesare Battisti à Brasília, novembre 2009. Cesare Battisti est un ressortissant italien …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cesare Battisti (activiste) — Cesare Battisti (1954) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Battisti et Cesare Battisti. Cesare Battisti, né le 18 décembre 1954 à Sermoneta au sud de Rome, est un écrivain de romans noirs. Il est aussi un ancien membre d un groupe terroriste… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cesare Battisti — may refer to: Cesare Battisti (politician) Cesare Battisti (1954), former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism in Italy This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same personal name. If an internal link led you here,… …   Wikipedia

  • Cesare Battisti (Terrorist) — Cesare Battisti, 2009. Cesare Battisti (* 18. Dezember 1954) ist ein ehemaliges Mitglied der Proletari Armati per il Comunismo (PAC), einer militanten linksradikalen Gruppe, welche während der „bleiernen Jahre“ in Italien eine gewaltsame… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cesare Battisti (disambiguation) — Cesare Battisti may refer to:* Cesare Battisti, 1875 1916, Italian irredentist * Cesare Battisti (activist), 1954 , Italian former member of the PAC and convicted murderer …   Wikipedia

  • Cesare Battisti (Begriffsklärung) — Cesare Battisti ist der Name folgender Personen: Cesare Battisti (1875–1916), ein italienisch österreichischer Politiker, Revolutionsführer und Irredentist Cesare Battisti (Terrorist) (* 1954), Mitglied der terroristischen Vereinigung Proletari… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cesare Battisti (born 1954) — For other uses, see Cesare Battisti (disambiguation). Cesare Battisti Battisti, 17 November 2009 Born December 18, 1954 (1954 12 18) (age 56) Sermoneta …   Wikipedia

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