INTERPOL database helps pin down international fugitive

21 March 2007

An Italian felon on the run from justice after a violent prison escape in 1981 has been apprehended in Rio de Janeiro. With a criminal history of assaults, kidnapping, manslaughter, possession of weapons and explosives, he was considered a dangerous threat. 

Cesare Battisti was arrested, after arranging to meet an acquaintance, as a result of cooperation between Italian, French and Brazilian authorities. Checking INTERPOL databases allowed Brazilian authorities to determine Battisti’s fugitive status, corroborating an investigative link that the French and Italian police had been working on together.

Battisti is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice issued by Italian authorities more than 20 years ago. The INTERPOL notices system, an essential tool for tracing international fugitives, enables police to share critical information on international criminals. Containing identification details and judicial information, notices are recognized in many countries as a basis for provisional arrest.

Brazilian police found two forged French passports in Battisti’s apartment in Rio – one of which was registered in INTERPOL’s stolen and lost travel documents database (SLTD). The SLTD contains nearly 14 million records accessible to all INTERPOL member countries through their National Central Bureaus (NCBs). The database is increasingly used internationally to prevent travelers, often terrorists or other criminals, from using such documents.

Battisti is now being held in the capital city of Brasilia. INTERPOL offices are assisting with the extradition procedure.

This arrest is an excellent example of international and multi-lateral police cooperation – one where INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization with 186 member countries, was able to assist through its databases and network of NCBs around the world.