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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 18:42 GMT
Wanted Italian seized in Brazil
Cesare Battisti at a book signing
Battisti became a successful crime writer after moving to France
A former Italian revolutionary, wanted in Italy in connection with four murders, has been arrested in Brazil, Brazilian and French authorities say.

Cesare Battisti, who used to belong to a left-wing extremist group, went into hiding in France in 2004, after France agreed to extradite him to Italy.

Battisti, 52, had made a successful career as a crime writer after escaping from prison in Italy in 1981.

He was granted asylum in France in 1990 by then President Francois Mitterrand.

He was one of several Italian militants given sanctuary in France in return for renouncing violence.

A former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, Mr Battisti was convicted in absentia by an Italian court and sentenced to life in prison in 1990 for the murders of a prison guard and a butcher in the 1970s.

Battisti is also accused of being an accomplice in two other murders, including the killing of a police officer.

He was arrested in his hotel room in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday morning in a joint operation by Italian, French and Brazilian police.

The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, has called his interior minister to express huge satisfaction at what he described as a "brilliant operation" that had led to Battisti's arrest, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Rome.

Battisti has always protested his innocence. In a book published in France last year he said: "I am guilty of carrying a weapon, but I've never shot anyone."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Archive footage of Cesare Battisti



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