PARIS (AP) — France’s highest court on Tuesday ruled against extraditing 10 Italian former far-left militants who were convicted of attacks carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.
The two women and eight men fled Italy after their convictions and before they could be sent to prison. Now ranging in age from 62 to 79, they have lived freely in France for decades.
The crimes of which they were convicted include the killing of a Carabinieri paramilitary general and the kidnapping of a judge, both in 1980.
Last June, a Paris court ruling against the extradition was appealed. But Tuesday’s decision is the final French legal ruling on the decades-long affair.
Resistance by French authorities to incarcerating the Italians has long been a thorny issue between Paris and Rome.
Over the years, Italy has sought the extradition of around 200 convicted former militants believed to be in France.
Under a 1980s policy known as the “Mitterrand doctrine,” named after Socialist then-President Francois Mitterrand, France refused to extradite Italian far-left activists unless there was evidence that they committed “crimes of blood,” an opaquely worded term that Italian authorities have challenged.
Italian officials have said the doctrine was based on the false French notion that Italy respects democratic freedoms less than France.
All 10 people involved in Tuesday's court ruling, some of whom were linked with the deadly Red Brigades group, were convicted in Italy of crimes dating to the 1970s and 1980s.
Among the group is Giorgio Petrostefani, a militant from the far-left group Lotta Continua (The Struggle Continues), who was convicted of the 1972 slaying of the Milan police chief.
It also includes a member of the Armed Cells Against Territorial Power, who was convicted of the 1979 killing of a Carabinieri police officer. Others were also convicted for their roles in the murders of law enforcement officers.
The Associated Press