Berlusconi probed over alleged link to mafia bombings

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation for alleged involvement in mafia bombings that terrorised the country in 1993, the former prime minister's lawyer said on Tuesday.

Berlusconi probed over alleged link to mafia bombings
Silvio Berlusconi is being probed for alleged involvement in the 1993 mafia bombings. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP

Prosecutors in Florence opened the probe after a mafia boss was caught on wiretap last year implying to a fellow inmate that the media magnate had urged him personally to commit acts of violence against the state.

It is the third time that the ex-premier has been investigated for a possible role in the mafia bombings in Rome, Milan and Florence that killed 10 people. The first two probes were dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The attacks were seen as revenge for the arrest of boss Toto Riina and the state's creation of harsh anti-mafia laws.

Giuseppe Graviano, serving life for his part in the bombings as well as the murder of two anti-mafia judges and an anti-mafia priest, claimed Berlusconi encouraged the violence for his own political ends, hoping to oust the old guard.

The ageing billionaire's right-hand man Marcello Dell'Utri served as the intermediary, according to a mafia hit man.

The co-founder of Berlusconi's Go Italy (FI) party was sentenced in 2014 to seven years in jail for mafia complicity.

Lawyer Niccolo Ghedini dismissed the latest probe as “the umpteenth investigation that will shortly be shelved, like the previous ones, as there is no new element and it has nothing to do with Berlusconi”.


Here’s the first glimpse of the Italian Silvio Berlusconi film

The trailer is finally here for Paolo Sorrentino's biopic of Silvio Berlusconi, a man who the director called "an archetype of Italianness".

Here's the first glimpse of the Italian Silvio Berlusconi film
A scene from Paolo Sorrentino's film about Silvio Berlusconi, Loro. Image: Universal Pictures International Italy/YouTube

Filmed in Rome and Tuscany last summer, the hotly anticipated Italian-language feature – titled Loro or “Them” – does not yet have an official release date, but is expected to premier at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Sorrentino, best known internationally for his Oscar-winning film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) and the TV series The Young Pope, has said he wanted to profile Italy's most infamous living politician because “he is an archetype of Italianness and through him, you can describe Italians”.

To judge by the trailer released on Monday, the film will focus at least as much on Berlusconi's personal life as his long career in media and politics. 

“I was interested in the man that’s behind the politics, but I am not so interested in the political stuff,” Sorrentino told the BBC last year, explaining that he would also tell the story of those around the businessman-turned-politician who tried to use his position to “change the course of their own life”. 

The teaser features multiple women, many of them scantily clad, but only a passing glimpse of Berlusconi, played by Toni Servillo. 

Paolo Sorrentino (L) and Toni Servillo with the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for La Grande Bellezza. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

The Neapolitan actor – who starred in La Grande Bellezza as well as Il Divo, Sorrentino's musical biopic of another former premier, Giulio Andreotti – has already impressed the Italian media with what La Repubblica called his “metamorphosis”. Photos from the set showed Servillo sporting Berlusconi's trademark tan and distinctive hairline; now he's winning praise for his spot-on impression of the four-time prime minister's voice.

We've only heard him say one line so far. Loro's trailer opens with a man's voice asking, “What did you expect: to be the richest man in the country, become prime minister and be madly loved by everyone too?” 

As Berlusconi, Servillo replies: “Yes, that's exactly what I expected.”

It's not clear if the real Berlusconi has seen the film. While he originally offered to allow Sorrentino to shoot inside his private villas, by October last year he said he had heard unwelcome rumours that the film might be a “political aggression towards me”.   

According to La Repubblica, Sorrentino did get the chance to meet Berlusconi's second ex-wife, Veronica Lario, with whom the politician is engaged in a long-running legal battle over alimony. Played by Elena Sofia Ricci, Lario also features in the trailer, looking mournful on a trampoline.

Berlusconi's pet poodle Dudù also makes an appearance. 

The teaser comes just a week after Berlusconi's greatest political defeat to date: his Forza Italia party won just 14 percent of the vote in Italy's general election, making it second within the centre-right bloc to the populist League. Should the group manage to form a government, the League – not Berlusconi – now gets to decide who will be prime minister.

Little has been seen or heard from Berlusconi publicly since the results came in. Many expect it to be the last time that the 81-year-old leads his party into an election, despite his supposed political immortality.

“The world has an idea of Berlusconi [as] a very simple person,” Sorrentino told the BBC. “But… I understood that he is more and more complicated than this. I would love to try to describe this complex character.”