Mafia member Mangano a hero, says Dell'Utri

Former Senator defends former mafioso for loyalty

Mafia member Mangano a hero, says Dell'Utri

Rome, September 6 - Late Mafia member Vittorio Mangano remains such a personal hero to Marcello Dell'Utri that the former Senator said Friday that he would hang a photo of Mangano in his home. "Mangano? For me he is still a hero, my hero, and I'll say it forever," Dell'Utri, a former close aide of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi told radio station La Zanzara. "I can not deny this and would never deny it". Dell'Utri, 71, is appealing to the supreme Court of Cassation a seven-year sentenced imposed in March by a Palermo court that convicted him of Mafia association. The court found that Dell'Utri sealed "a pact of protection" with Cosa Nostra for Berlusconi at a meeting in May 1974 - a meeting that the court said "formed the genesis of the relationship that linked the businessman (Berlusconi) and the Mafia with Dell'Utri's mediation". 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. The court ruling said Dell'Utri was the intermediary with Cosa Nostra for the ex-premier, handing on "substantial sums" of money for protection. The explanation also reiterated that Berlusconi had hired an stable manager Mangano, who died in prison in 2000, not for his knowledge of horses but to provide protection. 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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