Ex-MP flees Italy ahead of mafia ruling

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Marcello Dell’Utri sealed a "pact of protection" on behalf of Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP
12:01 CEST+02:00
An ex-senator for Silvio Berlusconi's former People of Freedom party has fled Italy just days ahead of a court ruling on his jail sentence for charges related to links with the mafia.

Marcello Dell’Ultri, who has two diplomatic passports, has been missing since Thursday, two days after a warrant for his arrest was issued, La Repubblica reported.

He could have travelled to “Lebanon, Guinea and South America”, where he sought refuge in the past, the newspaper said.

Dell’Utri, 71, was set to discover on April 15th whether Italy’s highest appeals court would uphold an earlier seven year jail term for collusion with the mafia.

He also sealed a “pact of protection” with the notorious crime network on behalf of the former prime minister, a Palermo appeals court said last September.

In an explanation to its sentencing decision in March last year, the court said Dell’Utri handed “substantial amounts of money” over to the mafia to protect Berlusconi.

The court pointed to a meeting between Dell’Utri, who was also the former head of Berlusconi’s advertising unit Publitalia ‘80, and the mafia in May 1974, during which a “pact of protection” was sealed.

The court said the meeting formed the “genesis of the relationship that linked the businessman and the mafia through Dell’Utri’s mediation”.

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Dell’Utri has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he’s the victim of a witch-hunt.

Dell’Utri is also credited with establishing Berlusconi’s Forza Italia in 1993.  

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