Palermo appeals court rejects Dell'Utri arrest request

Ex-Senator sentenced to seven years for mafia collusion

Palermo appeals court rejects Dell'Utri arrest request

Palermo, March 26 - The Palermo Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a request by prosecutors for the arrest of former Senator Marcello Dell'Utri of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, saying it did not see a major risk of him trying to flee from Italian justice. On Monday the court sentenced the former Berlusconi aide to seven years in jail for Mafia collusion. It subsequently ruled of the risk of him becoming a fugitive ''due to the behaviour of the defendant who has attended court hearings and never tried to avoid the sentence''. Dell'Utri, who was being retried on grounds that his legal rights were not respected in an earlier appeal, said he will appeal to the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest court. Prosecutors say he was the intermediary with Cosa Nostra for the ex-premier, handing on ''substantial sums'' of money for protection. Dell'Utri is the former head of the media magnate's advertising arm and is credited with helping to create the three-time premier's first party, Forza Italia, in 1993, a year before it swept to victory in general elections.

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