They have been settled in France for several decades. The Court of Cassation confirmed, Tuesday, March 28, the refusal to extradite ten former Italian far-left activists, claimed by Rome for acts qualified as terrorism committed during the “years of lead”she announced in a press release.
The highest court of the judiciary thus definitively validates the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal, which opposed in June 2022 the surrender to Italy of these two women and eight men. The Court of Appeal based its decision on respect for the right to private and family life as well as the right to a fair trial, provided for in Articles 8 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Attorney General of the Paris Court of Appeal, Rémy Heitz, had lodged appeals to challenge the position of the investigating chamber. Mr. Heitz believed that further information should have been ordered to ensure that those who were tried in their absence would benefit from a new trial if they were handed over to Italy. He also considered that the extradition of the activists would not constitute a disproportionate attack on the right to private and family life.
The Court of Cassation dismissed his appeals, “considering that the reasons adopted by the judges, which fall within their sovereign discretion, are sufficient”. “The negative opinion on extradition requests is therefore final”is it specified in the press release.
“A huge relief”
“It’s a huge relief. Justice is done calmly and with justice, that is absolutely what was needed”reacted Me Irène Terrel, lawyer for seven activists, including the media Marina Petrella.
Italy was claiming these ten former activists for remaining sentences linked to convictions for their involvement in acts of a terrorist nature committed during the “years of lead”from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
These ex-militants, aged 62 to 79, have rebuilt their lives in France for several decades. They felt protected there by the Mitterrand doctrine: the socialist president (1981-1995) had made a commitment not to extradite former activists who had broken with their past. But in the spring of 2021, President Emmanuel Macron had decided to promote the execution of the extradition requests of these six ex-Red Brigades and four ex-members of armed groups, renewed a year earlier by Rome.
At a time of violent social struggles, the “years of lead” were marked by an escalation between the extreme right and the extreme left and resulted in more than 360 deaths attributed to both sides, thousands of injuries, 10,000 arrests and 5,000 convictions.