Brazilian court's decision could lead to expulsion of Italian fugitive Cesare Battisti

A decision by Brazil's Federal Appeals Court could lead to the expulsion of Cesare Battisti the former leftist rebel from Italy wanted in his home country for four political murders carried out in the 1970s.

The court said in a statement posted Friday on its website that it turned down Battisti's request to overturn his Brazilian conviction for using fake immigration stamps in his passport when he entered Brazil in 2004.

The statement said that according to law, "a foreigner who resorts to fraud to enter the country can be expelled."

The Justice Ministry must now decide if Battisti can be expelled since former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Italy's request to extradite him in 2010. Immigration officials granted Battisti a residency visa in 2011.

The Italian Embassy said it had no immediate comment.

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 while awaiting trial on four counts of murder allegedly committed when he was a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism. He was convicted in absentia in 1990, and sentenced to life in prison. He has acknowledged membership in the group but has repeatedly denied killing anyone.

He moved first to Mexico, then to France in 1990, where he remade himself as an author. He fled to Brazil in 2004 when France changed its policy on giving asylum to former Italian militants who had renounced their convictions.

Battisti was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 at the request of the international police agency Interpol.

His use of fake immigration stamps was discovered shortly after he was arrested, the court's statement said.

After his arrest, the Justice Ministry's National Committee for Refugees recommended extradition, a decision that then-Brazilian Justice Minister Tarso Genro overturned in 2009 based on Battisti's fear of persecution if extradited.

Genro said at the time that Battisti's convictions in absentia were flawed, having taken place at a time when Italy was trying to show it was cracking down on terrorism.