France has detained seven former members of far-left Italian militant groups, including the Red Brigades.
The seven, and three other Italians still being sought, had been convicted of terrorism charges in Italy dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
France had offered left-wing radicals protection from extradition under a controversial policy.
The Red Brigades and other militant groups carried out violence in Italy during the so-called Years of Lead.
The period, from the late 1960s to early 1980s, got its name from the vast number of bullets fired.
The Red Brigades were formed in 1970 with the aim of overthrowing capitalist Italy by violent means. Most of their leading members had been captured and imprisoned by the mid-1980s.
The group was blamed for numerous killings, including the 1978 abduction and murder of former prime minister Aldo Moro.
Italy has long sought the extradition of far-left extremists. Former French President François Mitterrand offered them refuge in the 1980s under the “Mitterand Doctrine”, on the condition that they renounced violence and had not been accused of bloodshed.
In its statement on Wednesday, the French presidency said the arrests were made in line with a longstanding policy of only granting asylum to people who had not been convicted of murder.
It said President Emmanuel Macron still upheld the doctrine, but that the arrests were part of efforts to resolve tensions with Italy.
“France, also affected by terrorism, understands the absolute necessity of providing justice for victims,” the statement read.
However, a lawyer for five of the detainees called the arrests an “unspeakable betrayal on France’s part”.
“Since the 1980s, these people have been under the protection of France. They’ve remade their lives here for 30 years in the full view and knowledge of everyone, with their children and their grandchildren… and then in the early morning, they come looking for them, 40 years after the facts,” Irène Terrel told AFP.
Officials in Italy said the arrests involved members of the Red Brigades and a co-founder of the far-left militant group Lotta Continua.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Inter radio that it was now up to a French court to decide whether they would be extradited to Italy.
Italy’s foreign minister said the arrests proved that “one cannot run away from one’s responsibilities”.
News source: BBC