Brazil refuses to extradite fugitive Battisti to Italy Cesare Battisti was on the run for 26 years before his arrest in 2007 Continue reading the main story Related stories Court backs Battisti extradition Italy fugitive on hunger strike Italy recalls envoy in Brazil row Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has decided not to extradite an Italian former left-wing militant who has been a fugitive for three decades. Cesare Battisti was convicted in absentia of murdering four people in Italy in the 1970s during a series of left-wing kidnappings and killings. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said the decision did not represent an "affront from one country to another". But Italy's defence minister said it was "unjust and seriously offensive". Battisti has denied the murder charges, saying he is the victim of political persecution in Italy and that he risks being killed if extradited. Political asylum The 56-year-old has been on the run since escaping from an Italian jail in 1981 while awaiting trial. He spent the intervening years in France - where he started a career as a novelist - Mexico and finally Brazil. After he was arrested in Brazil in 2007, the Italian government requested his extradition under an existing bilateral treaty. It said the former member of the radical Armed Proletarians for Communism was a terrorist. Last year, the Brazilian government accepted a request from Battisti for political asylum, but the Supreme Court ruled that the designation was illegal as he was convicted of "common crimes" rather than political acts. Continue reading the main story Start Quote The fact that Lula waited until the last day of his term in office shows a lack of courage End Quote Ignazio La Russa Italian Defence Minister The judges said the extradition treaty should apply, but nevertheless left the final decision to the president. On Friday - the final day before handing over the presidency to Dilma Rousseff - Lula decided to turn down Italy's request "on the basis of a report by the attorney general", Mr Amorim announced in a statement. "This type of judgement does not constitute an affront from one country to another," he said. But Italian officials said soon afterwards that the ambassador to Brazil had been recalled for consultations, according to the AFP news agency. Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa promised his country would "leave no stone unturned" until Brazil reversed the decision. He told Sky TG24 that it was "unjust and seriously offensive to Italy, and above all to the memory of the people who were killed and the pain of the relatives of those who lost their lives because of that murderer Battisti." "The fact that Lula waited until the last day of his term in office shows a lack of courage," Mr La Russa added.