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Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti arrested in Bolivia | Brazil News

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Cesare Battisti, a former Italian communist activist sought by Rome for four murders in the 1970s, has been arrested after an international police squad tracked him to Bolivia where he faces extradition to Brazil and then likely to Italy.

Italy has repeatedly sought the extradition of Battisti, who lived in Brazil for years under the protection of former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who is now in prison for corruption.

“Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti was detained in Bolivia (Saturday night) and will be soon brought to Brazil, from where he will probably be sent to Italy to serve a life sentence,” tweeted Filipe G Martins, a senior aide on international affairs to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.  






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During Brazil’s recent presidential campaign, the far-right Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, vowed that if elected he would “immediately” extradite Battisti to Italy.

In mid-December Brazil’s outgoing president, Michel Temer, signed an extradition order for Battisti after a judge ordered his arrest. By then the Italian had disappeared.

Battisti, 64, was arrested late on Saturday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Brazilian police sources told Brazilian media. Italian interior ministry sources confirmed the arrest.

“Battisti was arrested in the street, unarmed and he didn’t resist, responded to police in Portuguese and showed a Brazilian document confirming his identity,” an Italian interior ministry source said. “Now Italy is waiting for him.”

Italian state police said the arrest had been carried out by a joint team of Italian and Bolivian officers with the help of Italy’s “counterterrorism” section.

‘Little gift’

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini thanked the Italian and foreign police who captured “a delinquent who did not deserve the comfortable life on the beach, and who should spend out the rest of his days in prison”.

Bolsonaro’s legislator son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, tweeted in Italian with a picture of Battisti: “Brazil is no longer the land of bandits. Matteo Salvini, the ‘little gift’ is on its way.”

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison after being convicted in 1979 of his allegiance to an outlawed leftist group, Armed Proletarians for Communism.

He was subsequently convicted in absentia of having killed two Italian policemen, taking part in the murder of a butcher and helping plan the slaying of a jeweller who died in a shooting which left his 14-year-old son in a wheelchair.

Battisti admitted to being part of the group but refused to take responsibility for any deaths.

He reinvented himself as an author, writing a string of noir novels and in 2004 skipped bail in France, where he had taken refuge. He went to live clandestinely in Brazil until he was arrested in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro.

After years in custody, then-President Lula issued a decree – later upheld by Brazil’s Supreme Court – in 2010 refusing Battisti’s extradition to Italy, and he was freed, angering Italy.

Battisti, who has a five-year-old Brazilian son, last year told the AFP news agency that he faced “torture” and death if he were ever to be sent back to Italy.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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