France detains 7 Italians, ex-members of Red Brigades

Photo: AP archive Aldo Moro’s portrait released by the Red Brigades to Rome's daily Il Messagero on 20 April 1978. Former Italian PM was kidnapped on 18 March 1978 and found dead on 9 May.

French authorities have detained seven Italian nationals who had been on the run since they were convicted on terrorism charges in their home country for crimes committed in the 1970s and 80s, the French presidency announced on Wednesday. A search was underway for three other Italians, the presidency added in a statement, cited by news agencies.

The Elysée Palace said the decision to detain the 10 former members of the Red Brigades, out of some 200 people sought by Italy, was in line with a longstanding French policy of granting asylum only to those who have not been convicted of murder. It did not give details of those arrested.

Italy had urged President Emmanuel Macron to extradite extreme-left guerrillas who have been hiding in France for decades to avoid prison convictions.

Hundreds of people were murdered in bombings, assassinations and street warfare by rival far-right and far-left militant factions during a period of social and political turmoil from the late 1960s to early 1980s, known as the Years of Lead.

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