Seven Italian Red Brigades Members Arrested in France

Seven Italian former members of the Red Brigades, a left-wing domestic terrorism group active in the 1970s and 1980s, were arrested on Wednesday morning in France, the French presidency said in a statement.
Italian arrest warrants were issued for “acts of terrorism,” the statement said. French police are searching for three more suspects who were not at home.
The communication to French prosecutors of the 10 requests from the Italian government follows “important bilateral work” to prepare for the arrests, which led investigators to focus on “the more serious crimes,” the French presidency said in a statement. Italy had initially identified 200 individuals.
“France, also hit by terrorism, understands the need for justice for the victims,” the statement said.
According to the Italian police, those arrested include Giorgio Pietrostefani, a co-founder of the Lotta Continua group who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in the 1972 murder of Milan police commissioner Luigi Calabresi.
The six others were members of the Red Brigades, including Marina Petrella, Roberta Cappelli and Sergio Tornaghi, who were sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in murders and kidnappings the 1970s and 1980s.
All those arrested on Wednesday had fled Italy before serving their sentences.
At the time, the Red Brigades’ attacks and kidnappings terrorized Italy. The group later fell dormant.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on France Inter radio that it is now up to a French court to decide whether these people will be extradited to Italy.
France and Italy’s justice ministers met on April 9. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera report that Italy’s minister, Marta Cartabia, formally requested the extraditions on that occasion.
The statute of limitations for the European arrest warrant that allowed their capture was set to expire between December this year and 2023, according to Italian police.
France established in 1985 a policy known as the “Mitterrand doctrine,” from the name of Socialist President Francois Mitterrand. It said that Italian far-left activists who had fled to France would not be extradited to Italy unless there was evidence that they committed “crimes of blood.”
Of those captured on Wednesday, Petrella had already been arrested in France in 2007, but the government of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy said in 2008 she would not be extradited to Italy due to her state of health. France’s Italian-born first lady, Carla-Bruni-Sarkozy, visited Petrella in the hospital at the time, leading some to believe she played a role in the French decision.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi expressed satisfaction that France has now agreed to start judicial proceedings for cases that “have left an open wound,” a statement from the premier’s office said.
“The memory of those barbaric acts is vivid in the conscience of Italians,” Draghi said.

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