World Bulletin/News Desk
Lebanon extradited to Italy on Friday a long-time political and business ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who fled to Beirut in April just before being found guilty of dealings with the Sicilian mafia.
Marcello Dell'Utri, 72, landed at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Friday morning accompanied by Interpol officials and was handed over to the Italian police, airport authorities said.
An Italian court has sentenced Dell'Utri, who comes from Sicily, to seven years in jail for acting as a go-between for the mafia and the Milan business elite, including Berlusconi's companies, from 1974 to 1992.
Four-times prime minister Berlusconi, 77, who has been stripped of his seat in the Senate and is doing a year of community service following a tax fraud conviction, was not a defendant in Dell'Utri's mafia trial, which began in 1997.
Although weakened by his legal problems, Berlusconi remains leader of his Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, which is in opposition to Matteo Renzi's government. He is still the dominant figure on Italy's right.
Berlusconi and Dell'Utri have been friends since they attended university together in Milan in the early 1960s. They have been dogged by legal troubles for most of their political careers. Both accuse magistrates of persecuting them for political reasons.
Dell'Utri ran an advertising company in Berlusconi's media empire from 1984 to 1995 and became a close adviser when Berlusconi entered politics two decades ago, helping him to build up his Forza Italia party from scratch.
Dell'Utri was elected to Italy's parliament three times as a member of Berlusconi's party, and served one term as a member of the European Parliament.Last Mod: 13 Haziran 2014, 11:19