Switzerland extradites Red Brigades suspect

Bortone is suspected of being a member of the Red Brigades Keystone Archive

Switzerland's Federal Court has extradited suspected Red Brigades militant, Nicola Bortone, to Italy.

This content was published on September 20, 2002 - 11:22

"The suspected Red Brigades activist was handed over to the Italian authorities in Chiasso," the justice ministry said in a statement. The extradition took place on Friday morning.

The federal court had authorised the extradition on Wednesday.

Bortone was arrested in Zurich in March and sentenced in absentia by a court in Italy to five-and-a-half years in prison.

He had been wanted for more than a decade for alleged links to the Red Brigades, a left-wing group that carried out numerous terror attacks in Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 46-year-old Bortone - who was arrested on a warrant issued by Interpol - is suspected of involvement in the 1999 murder of Massimo D'Antona, a close adviser to the Italian labour minister.

Bortone's lawyer, Bernard Rambert, has described the decision to extradite him as "Swiss opportunism". He also said the verdict was politically motivated and could not be justified legally.

Furthermore he pointed out that the Federal Court had failed to contact him directly about the decision and that he found out via the Italian press.

Released from custody

Last August, Swiss authorities turned down an appeal by Bortone to be released from custody in order to look after his two children and seriously ill wife, who has since died.

Italian media reports said Bortone was first arrested in Paris together with three other members of Italy's Red Brigades in 1989.

He was extradited to Italy to serve a three-year sentence for his role in a 1987 attack in Rome in which two policemen were killed.

The original Red Brigades were founded in 1973. Their most notorious act is considered to have been the kidnapping and murder in 1978 of Aldo Moro, the president of the then all-powerful Christian Democratic Party and former prime minister of Italy.

A group calling themselves the "New Red Brigades" claimed responsibility for D'Antona's murder, as well as for the killing of government adviser Marco Biagi last March.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Nicola Bortone has been extradited to Italy.
He is suspected of being a member of Italy's Red Brigades terrorist group.
The original Red Brigades were founded in 1973.

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