News / Middle East

Beirut Police Detain Berlusconi Ally Ahead of Mafia Verdict

FILE - Marcello Dell'Utri attends a debate at the Senate in Rome, Sept. 30, 2010. FILE - Marcello Dell'Utri attends a debate at the Senate in Rome, Sept. 30, 2010.
x
FILE - Marcello Dell'Utri attends a debate at the Senate in Rome, Sept. 30, 2010.
FILE - Marcello Dell'Utri attends a debate at the Senate in Rome, Sept. 30, 2010.
Reuters
— Beirut police on Saturday picked up a longtime political ally and friend of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was declared a fugitive earlier this week.
 
A Palermo court said on Friday that former senator Marcello Dell'Utri, who co-founded Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in 1994, was considered a fugitive ahead of a final verdict in a trial for mafia collusion, due on Tuesday.
 
“He was captured and is now in a Lebanese police office,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, a former Berlusconi ally who broke with the center-right leader last year, said on the sidelines of a political rally in Rome.
 
The 5-Star Movement and another opposition party had called for Alfano's resignation after police lost track of Dell'Utri.
 
“His capture was obviously connected to an extradition procedure that the Italian government, through the justice ministry, will activate immediately,” Alfano added.
 
An arrest warrant dated April 8 obtained by Reuters said Dell'Utri's cell phone had been detected in Beirut on April 3, and that he had departed from Italy in mid-March.
 
But Dell'Utri, in a statement issued through his lawyer, Giuseppe Di Peri, responded on Friday that he had left the country for medical tests and some rest after undergoing an angioplasty a few weeks ago. He did not say where he was.
 
On Saturday, Di Peri said he had not spoken with his client since he was taken into custody, but that he expected Italy would request extradition and said that Dell'Utri would likely have to hire a Lebanese lawyer to assist him.
 
A year ago, a Palermo appeals court convicted the 72-year-old Dell'Utri of acting as a go-between for the Sicilian Mafia and the Milan business elite, including Berlusconi's companies, until 1992 and sentenced him to seven years in prison.
 
Dell'Utri, who denies any wrongdoing, appealed to the country's highest court.
 
In accordance with Italian law, the Sicilian-born Dell'Utri was free as he awaited the final ruling. If it is upheld, he would have faced immediate arrest.
 
In the statement issued on Friday, Dell'Utri said he was confident that the high court would rule in his favor, adding that it was not his intention to hide from the verdict.
 
Dell'Utri and four-time prime minister Berlusconi, 77, have been friends since they attended university together in Milan in the early 1960s. Berlusconi is not a defendant in the trial.
 
Dell'Utri ran the advertising company in Berlusconi's media empire from 1984 to 1995, and became a key adviser when Berlusconi entered politics two decades ago, helping him to establish his own political party from scratch.
 
Both Berlusconi and Dell'Utri have been dogged by legal troubles for most of their political careers, and both accuse magistrates of persecuting them for political reasons.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid