Fugitive ex-militant Battisti arrives in Italy from Bolivia

1 / 3
Fugitive Cesare Battisti, center, wanted in Rome for four murders attributed to a far-left group in the 1970s, is escorted by Italian officers as he steps off a plane coming from Bolivia. (AFP)
2 / 3
Italian militant Cesare Battisti sits aboard a chartered plane prior to take off from Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia. (Polizia Di Stato/AFP)
3 / 3
The plane carrying Italian militant Cesare Battisti sits on the tarmac in Santa Cruz, Bolivia prior to departure for Rome in Italy. (AFP)
Updated 14 January 2019

Fugitive ex-militant Battisti arrives in Italy from Bolivia

  • Italy had repeatedly sought the extradition of the activist, who lived in Brazil for years
  • The 64-year-old smiled grimly as he was escorted off the plane by a dozen policemen

ROME: Former communist militant Cesare Battisti, wanted in Italy for four murders in the 1970s, arrived in Rome Monday after an international police squad tracked him down and arrested him in Bolivia.

An Italian-flagged Falcon 900 plane carrying Battisti, who spent nearly four decades on the run, touched down under rainy skies at Ciampino airport, where far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was waiting to escort him to prison.

The 64-year-old, who was not wearing handcuffs, smiled grimly as he was escorted off the plane by a dozen policemen.

He was expected to be taken Rome’s Rebibbia jail, where according to media reports he will begin life behind bars with six months solitary confinement.

Jailed in 1979 for belonging to an armed revolutionary group outlawed in Italy, Battisti escaped from prison two years later, and has spent nearly four decades on the run.

He was seized late Saturday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in an operation carried out by a joint team of Italian and Bolivian officers.

The ex-militant was given a life sentence for having killed two Italian policemen, taking part in the murder of a butcher and helping plan the slaying of a jeweler who died in a shootout that left his teenage son in a wheelchair.


Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

Updated 25 August 2019

Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

  • Kim likes testing missiles, says US president
  • Denuclearization talks in trouble

SEOUL: North Korea test-fired a new type of multiple rocket launch system late Saturday into the sea off its east coast, state media reported.

It was the seventh test in a month, as negotiations to scrap the North’s nuclear arsenal flounder.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Sunday that the latest weapons’ test was on a newly developed “super-large multiple rocket launcher.”

The country’s leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the test and called the device a “great weapon.”

North Korea must step up its development of strategic and tactical weapons to counter the “ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of hostile forces,” KCNA reported Kim as saying while he oversaw the testing.

One of the short-range weapons has been identified as a KN-23, a mobile short-range ballistic missile based on the technology of Russia’s Iskander missile, which could hit targets across the South after evading missile interceptors operated by South Korea’s military. Pyongyang maintains that joint South Korea-US military drills are a provocation.

South Korea officials urged the North to stop hostile acts.

“We express strong concern that the North continues to test-fire short-range projectiles despite the South Korea-US military drills ending,” a presidential spokesman told reporters on Saturday. “We urge the North to halt such hostile acts that raise military tensions.”

Despite worries about the North’s provocations that could harm the security of South Korea where 28,500 US armed forces personnel are stationed, US President Donald Trump again touted his friendship with Kim.

“Kim Jong-un has been pretty straight with me, I think, and we’re going to see what’s going on, we’re going to see what’s happening,” he told reporters in Washington before heading to the G-7 summit in France on Friday night. “He likes testing missiles, but we never restricted short-range missiles.”

Trump and Kim held a surprise meeting in the Demilitarized Zone in June and agreed to resume working-level denuclearization negotiations within a month, but such a meeting has yet to be held.

In a further sign that nuclear disarmament talks are barely holding together, the North blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for complicating the talks, calling him a “diehard toxin.”

“He is truly impudent enough to utter such thoughtless words which only leave us disappointed and skeptical as to where we can solve any problem with such a guy,” North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said on Friday in a statement carried by KCNA, referring to Pompeo’s recent remarks in which he said sanctions would be kept until the North took concrete steps to bin nuclear weapons.

US Special Representative Stephen Biegun for North Korea was in Seoul last week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track but it is not clear if he contacted his North Korean counterpart.

Biegun’s efforts were overshadowed by South Korea’s surprising decision to sever military ties with Japan. 

On Thursday, the presidential Blue House announced it would pull out of an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a key pillar of the US-led trilateral alliance in East Asia to check the influence of China and Russia.

The intelligence pact, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), has benefited South Korea’s military to collect key information on North Korean nuclear and missile activities, as Japan operates seven spy satellites while South Korea has no such strategic assets.

The decision to end GSOMIA came amid escalating trade disputes over Japan’s restriction of exporting chip-making materials to South Korea following disputes arising from Japanese colonial rule.