A close associate of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was on Friday being transferred to prison to serve a sentence for consorting with the mafia after being extradited from Lebanon.
Marcello Dell’Utri worked in Berlusconi’s business empire since the 1970s and helped him enter politics in 1993, co-founding his conservative Forza Italia party. He was a lawmaker from 1996 to 2013.
After landing at Rome’s Fiumicino airport at dawn, he was taken into custody and escorted to a prison in Parma, in northern Italy.
Italy’s highest appeal court concluded last month that Dell’Utri abetted the activities of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia, during 1974-92, and sentenced him to a seven-year prison term.
A month before the ruling, the former senator fled to Lebanon. He was apprehended in Beirut on April 12, after Italy officially reported him as a fugitive to Interpol. Extradition procedures took several weeks to complete.
Dell’Utri is also a defendant in an ongoing trial in Palermo over a secret non-aggression pact between senior politicians, police officers and mafia bosses in the early 1990s to stop a deadly Cosa Nostra bombing campaign.