Palermo

Dell'Utri sealed 'Mafia pact' to protect Berlusconi - court

Sentence explanation says aide mediated with Cosa Nostra

Dell'Utri sealed 'Mafia pact' to protect Berlusconi - court

Palermo, September 5 - Former aide Marcello Dell'Utri sealed "a pact of protection" with Cosa Nostra for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi at a meeting in May 1974, according to the explanation of the Palermo appeals court's decision in March to sentence Dell'Utri to seven years in prison for Mafia collusion. The explanation added that the 1974 meeting "formed the genesis of the relationship that linked the businessman and the Mafia with Dell'Utri's mediation". Dell'Utri, 71, is appealing against the conviction to the supreme Court of Cassation. In Italy convictions are not considered definitive until the two-tier appeals process has been exhausted. The March verdict was the result of a retrial after the Cassation said Dell'Utri's legal rights were not respected in the previous appeal. Prosecutors say Dell'Utri was the intermediary with Cosa Nostra for the ex-premier, handing on "substantial sums" of money for protection. Former Senator Dell'Utri is the former head of the media magnate's advertising arm who is credited with creating the three-time premier's first party, Forza Italia, in 1993, six months before it swept to victory in general elections.

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