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Italian ex-militant Battisti 'confesses to four murders' after decades of denial

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP | In this file photo taken on January 14, 2019 Italian former communist militant Cesare Battisti (C) is escorted by Italian Police officers after stepping off a plane coming from Bolivia

Former communist militant Cesare Battisti, jailed for life in Italy over four murders carried out in the 1970s, has confessed to the killings after decades of denying involvement, media reported Monday.

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Battisti, 64, has admitted all the charges brought against him "in four murder cases", Milan's prosecutor Alberto Nobili was quoted as saying by Italian media.

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

An international police operation eventually tracked him down and arrested him in Bolivia in January.

Battisti was sentenced to life for having killed a policeman and a prison guard, for taking part in the murder of a butcher and for helping plan the slaying of a jeweller who died in a shootout that left his teenage son in a wheelchair.

He is serving his sentence in a Sardinian prison housing more than 250 convicts, many of them living under the tough "41-bis" prison regime usually applied to Mafia members.

Battisti confessed to the killings during questioning in prison over the weekend, Nobili said.

Following his jailbreak, Battisti had reinvented himself as an author, writing a string of noir novels. In 2004, he skipped bail in France, where he had taken refuge. He then went to live clandestinely in Brazil until he was arrested in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro.

After years in custody, then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva issued a decree -- later upheld by Brazil's Supreme Court -- in 2010 refusing Battisti's extradition to Italy, and he was freed, angering Rome.

But earlier this year, Battisti was seized without a struggle in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in an operation carried out by a joint team of Italian and Bolivian officers.

Until now, he had admitted to being part of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, a radical group that staged a string of robberies and attacks, but always rejected responsibility for any deaths, painting himself as a political refugee.

(AFP)

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