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Suspected Red Brigades member arrested in Zurich

The Red Brigades are known for their spectacular attacks against Italian institutions and personalities (picture: www.inclasse.it) The Red Brigades are notorious for a series of attacks against political targets (picture: www.inclasse.it)

A suspected member of the new Red Brigades has been arrested in Zurich at the request of the Italian authorities.

This content was published on March 11, 2002 - 22:14

The police arrested Nicole Bortone, alias Vincenzo, on Sunday. Considered to be one the founding members of the latest version of Italy's most famous left-wing activist group, the 45-year-old put up no resistance.

The Swiss justice ministry confirmed the arrest on Monday. According to a ministry spokesman, Bortone was apprehended on the basis of an international warrant issued in 1989 by a Rome court.

The Italian is wanted by his country's anti-terrorism police and the Rome prosecutor's office for the promotion, constitution and organisation of a subversive association.

Bortone is being held in Zurich, where he was questioned on Monday. He has already refused to be extradited towards Italy. The Italian authorities have up to 40 days to request his extradition.

Subversive organisation

The suspected activist spent three years in a French jail after being arrested there in 1989. He was found guilty of possessing an illegal weapon, falsifying documents and associating with criminals despite claiming to be "revolutionary militant".

After being freed in 1992, he spent a few more months in France before disappearing.

Bortone was judged in absentia last September by a Rome court and sentenced to five and a half years in prison for belonging to a subversive association and an armed gang.

The new Red Brigades came to the public's attention in 1999 when they claimed responsibility for the assassination in Rome of Massimo D'Antona, a government adviser who was an under-secretary at the ministry of labour.

The original Red Brigades were founded in 1973 and were behind a number of deadly attacks during the Seventies and Eighties. Their most notorious action was the kidnapping and murder in 1978 of Aldo Moro, the president of the then all-powerful Christian Democratic Party and former prime minister of Italy.

swissinfo with agencies

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