Armed prole-in-chief

Cesare Battisti, novelist, fugitive and favourite of the international bien pensant class, is now back in jail in Italy.

Sentenced to twelve-and-a-half years in jail in 1979 for his part in the killing of four people, carried out by members of the Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC), Battisti escaped in October 1981 from Frosinne prison. He fled to Paris first and then Mexico, where he founded Via Libre, a literary review, and then Brazil, where he was eventually granted refugee status, and where he gained a wife. He was arrested in Bolivia by agents who tracked him by his use of an electronic device.

Battisti has always denied having committed any of the murders for which he was sentenced. His case is mired in confusion about who, when, how, why and what. Nevertheless, he’s got some very chummy public supporters including the writers Fred Vargas, Valerio Evangelisti, Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez and Bernard-Henri Lévy – and rumours concerning Carla Bruni, wife of former (and disgraced) President of France Nicholas Sarkozy.