French court refuses to extradite former “red terrorists”

Photo Credit: AFP

 PARIS – The French Court of Cassation ruled against extraditing ten former Italian far-left militants on Tuesday, each of whom were accused of attacks in the 1970s and 1980s, according to French officials. 

 Some of the convicted were linked to the Red Brigades, an Italian far-left terrorist group that operated during the violent "Years of Lead" from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Murder and kidnapping are among the crimes the former members are convicted of. 

 The group is made up of 8 men and 2 women aged between 62 and 79. After fleeing from Italy following their initial convictions, they had been living freely in France for decades until they were arrested in April of 2021, according to the French Chamber of Education.

 The judges decided against extraditing them by citing Articles 8 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision was based on the notions that an extradition to Italy would not offer them a fair trial and that it would disrespect private and family life. 

 The convicted were relieved following the ruling which will allow them to stay in France and not need to face the Italian judiciary.

 Irene Terrel, a lawyer for seven of the former militants, said that "accepting extradition is a death penalty in disguise," due to their ages, but many Italians see the Cassation's decision as a wrong one.

 Italian officials spoke out following the decision on Tuesday, including Carlo Nordio, Italy’s justice minister, who said, “Italy has done everything in its power to remove the political obstacle which for decades has prevented the French judiciary from evaluating our requests.” 

 In the 1980s, a doctrine was passed that would refuse to extradite Italian far-left militants during the Years of Lead without evidence of “crimes of blood." France became a haven for group members of the time, and since then, the two countries have dealt with tricky extradition-related conflict. 

 Among Nordio in his opinion on the Cassation’s decision are Matteo Salvini, who called the decision "disconcerting," and Giorgia Meloni, who called the refusal to extradite “unacceptable and shameful” last year.