Italy recalls ambassador from Brazil

January 28th, 2009 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 28 (Xinhua) The Italian government announced that it has recalled the country’s ambassador in Brazil, Michele Valensise, after the Brazilian government maintained its decision to grant refugee status to Italian writer Cesare Battisti. According to the Italian Foreign Relations Ministry, the government decision is not permanent, and Valensise has been recalled to Rome temporarily to consult with the government.

Battisti, a former member of a radical Italian leftist group, was sentenced to life in prison on four counts of murder committed in the 1970s.

After living many years in France, Battisti left for Brazil. He was arrested here in 2007, and requested political asylum in the country.

On Jan 13, Brazil’s Justice Minister Tarso Genro granted political refugee status to Battisti, against the advice of Brazil’s National Committee for Refugees. The decision caused an uproar in Italy, where Battisti is considered a terrorist.

The asylum was granted on the grounds of fear of persecution, due to Battisti’s political views. Genro also considered that due to Italy’s political situation at the time, the writer was not given a fair trial.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano asked Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to revoke Genro’s decision, but Lula decided to maintain it.

According to Lula, Brazil’s decision is sovereign and should be accepted, though Italy may not agree with it.

On Monday, Brazilian General Prosecutor Antonio Fernando de Souza recommended to the Supreme Federal Court that Battisti’s extradition request by Italy be closed.

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