A number of members of the left-wing extremist terrorist organization Red Brigades received asylum in France in the 1980s and thus escaped prosecution in their home country of Italy.

This has weighed on the relationship between the two countries to this day.

French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to settle the dispute with Italy over former members of the Red Brigades terrorist organization, but the Paris Court of Appeal has now rejected the extradition request.

"There are no guarantees for a fair trial"

Matthias Rub

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

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Michael Wiegel

Political correspondent based in Paris.

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In its judgment, the Court of Appeal referred to Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The “right to a fair trial” is not guaranteed.

Italy passed a law in 2014 that opens up the possibility of a new criminal trial for members convicted in absentia.

A new criminal procedure is not necessarily provided, but is based on the decision of a judge.

As a result, there are no guarantees that those who have been extradited can expect a fair trial.

Article 8 concerns the right to respect for private and family life.

In their verdict, the French appeal judges took into account the fact that the ten former Red Brigaders have been living in France for a good 40 years and have French children and grandchildren.

The appeal verdict means a political setback for Emmanuel Macron, who wanted to promote reconciliation with Italy.

At the end of November 2021, Rome and Paris signed a friendship treaty.

In April 2021, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti arrested seven former members of the Red Brigades.

Two others, who had not been found by the police, turned themselves in to the police.

The Elysée Palace stressed that the arrests were made in consultation with Italy.

Salvini: "Judgment is a hideous shame"

In Italy, the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal was met with regret and astonishment.

Justice Minister Marta Cartabia said that while she respected the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal, which was taken in full independence of the French judiciary, she did not hide her surprise that the decision rejected Rome's extradition request.

In order to decide on further possible steps, the reasoning behind the judgment must first be analyzed in detail, said the minister.

"The verdict follows a long wait by the victims and the entire country regarding a dramatic and to this day painful chapter in our history," Cartabia said.

At the same time, the minister emphasized the importance of the agreement reached with her French counterpart Dupont-Moretti a good year ago.

With this gesture, the French government not only "showed its fullest understanding of the drama our country went through during the 'leaden times'," but also "expressed its trust in the judiciary and in the institutions of Italy," said the independent minister.

Former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the right-wing national Lega called the Paris judge's verdict a "disgusting disgrace".

Instead of showing European solidarity, France is protecting terrorists who have committed murders in Italy.

Giorgia Meloni, chairwoman of the post-fascist party "Brothers of Italy", which according to current polls is the country's strongest political force, described the verdict as "unacceptable and disgraceful".

In Italy, the illusion was that Paris had abolished the so-called Mitterrand Doctrine.

"Now we see that is not the case," Meloni said.

She called on the government under Prime Minister Mario Draghi to do everything possible so that "these criminals serve their sentences to the last day".

At the same time, she was skeptical that "these murderers will ever have to pay for their crimes in Italy".

The deputy leader of the Christian-Democratic Forza Italia, Antonio Tajani, spoke of a "very serious process" that amounted to "active participation in a criminal and subversive project".