The Sicilian court has rejected pleas by Dell’Utri’s lawyers that the former senator was not a flight risk, despite him travelling to Lebanon just days before his case was due to be heard, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Italy’s highest court was due to decide earlier this month whether to uphold Dell’Utri’s seven-year prison sentence for colluding with the mafia. But just a day after authorities issued an arrest warrant, over fears that he may flee the country, Dell’Utri flew to Lebanon and refused to reveal his whereabouts.
He was tracked down and arrested on April 12th in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where he claimed he was seeking medical treatment.
Dell’Utri’s lawyers, Giuseppe Di Peri and Nicoletta Piergentili Piromallo, unsuccessfully argued that their client was not running away because he used his credit card and mobile phone in Lebanon, Il Sole reported.
The former politician remains under arrest in Lebanon while extradition procedures get underway, ahead of the Italian court’s decision set for May 9th. He is accused of being a mediator between Berlusconi and the Sicilian mafia, securing up a “pact of protection” between the criminal underworld and the billionaire.
Dell’Utri played a key role in Berlusconi’s political career, helping to create the billionaire politician’s Forza Italia party which clinched the 1994 national elections.