Dissatisfied. The lawyers of the ten former Italian activists refugees in France and claimed by Italy denounced on Monday a “deviation of the rule of law” after the declaration of Emmanuel Macron and the decision of the general prosecutor’s office of Paris to contest the rejection of their extradition requests. “In these cases, I never had an appeal. We are indeed in a diversion, a dysfunction of the rule of law under pressure from political power”, denounced Me Irène Terrel, who defends seven ex-activists, during a press conference also organized by the League for the Rights of man (LDH).
“There is a real political will to question the Mitterrand doctrine,” said Me Antoine Comte, who defends another former activist, recalling that blood crimes were not excluded, contrary to what said Emmanuel Macron. The Paris Court of Appeal rejected on June 29 the extradition requests of these ten former Italian far-left activists, accused by Rome of “terrorism” during the “years of lead” (1970-1980) and aged today. 61 to 78 years old today. But the Attorney General, Rémy Heitz, seized the Court of Cassation of these decisions.
“The president is not all-powerful”
Refugees in France for thirty or forty years, these two women and eight men felt protected there by virtue of the doctrine set out by former President François Mitterrand (1981-1995): they would not be handed over to Italy if they were breaking with their past as activists. But in the spring of 2021, the Head of State 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. After the Court of Appeal’s decision, he reaffirmed his wish that they be “tried on Italian soil”.
By reacting to a court decision, Mr. Macron violated “the fundamental principle of the separation of powers”, denounced Jean-Paul Chagnollaud, professor of political science. “The president is not all-powerful, he must respect what he guarantees,” according to Mr. Chagnollaud, in this case the independence of justice. Me Terrel also recalled that the ten former activists had already been tried in Italy and that no fair trial was, according to her, possible forty years after the facts.
Texts by authors Annie Ernaux and Pierre Lemaitre, or historians Michèle Riot-Sarcey and Ludivine Bantigny were read. “We must stop the relentlessness against Italian refugees,” said writer Eric Vuillard. The companion of one of the former activists read a message on behalf of all the families, denouncing an “incomprehensible relentlessness” and recalling their “intention to (fight) until the end”.