Berlusconi 'cut deal with Mafia', court told
Former hitman claims Italian PM gave 'benefits' to the Mob for political support
Saturday 05 December 2009
The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, made a deal with the Sicilian Mafia in the early 1990s that put the country "in the hands" of the Mob, a court in Turin was told yesterday.
Gaspare Spatuzza, a jailed Mafia hitman turned witness, told a packed and heavily guarded bunker courtroom that his Cosa Nostra Godfather boss had cut a deal with Mr Berlusconi in 1993 that provided unspecified "benefits" to the Mafia in exchange for political support. The media tycoon entered politics a few months later and won his first term as Prime Minister in 1994.
Spatuzza said his boss, Giuseppe Graviano, who was jailed over Mafia bomb attacks in Rome, Milan and Florence, had told him that the Mob had "got everything" with the help of Mr Berlusconi, adding that Graviano called Mr Berlusconi "the man from Channel 5", in reference to his TV network.
The damaging claims came at the appeal hearing of Marcello Dell'Utri, a key Berlusconi associate and senator, who is challenging his nine-year jail sentence for links with the Mafia.
Spatuzza, in prison for several murders, testified: "Graviano told me the name of Berlusconi and said that thanks to him and the man from our home town [an apparent reference to Dell' Utri] we have the country in our hands."
Mr Berlusconi has denounced the claims of Spatuzza as "vile", and "unfounded and defamatory", denying ever having links with the Mafia. The Prime Minister's spokesman said the testimony yesterday was the Mafia's "completely logical" revenge against the Prime Minister for his "determined" fight against organised crime.
Dell'Utri told the court that neither he nor Mr Berlusconi had Mafia connections. "It's in the interest of the Mafia to force the collapse of the Berlusconi government because this government has done the most in the fight against organised crime," he said. Mr Berlusconi, who recently lost his legal immunity to prosecution, was said to have been furious this week, after the parliamentary Speaker, Gianfranco Fini, the man who is supposed to be his closest ally, had said that the Spatuzza evidence was "an atomic bomb".
Mr Fini was recorded by an unobserved microphone while talking privately at an official dinner. Rumours of the conservative Prime Minister's links with the Mob have persisted since investigators learnt that a Cosa Nostra hitman, Vittorio Mangano, worked as Mr Berlusconi's "stable-master" at the media mogul's villa in Arcore outside Milan in the 1970s. Much speculation has also centred on the origins of Mr Berlusconi's vast wealth.
Last week, the Prime Minister's broadcast group, Mediaset, and his holding company, Fininvest, announced it intended to sue the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica over an article that said Mediaset was "20 per cent owned by the Mafia".
La Stampa newspaper noted that the "dread combination of Mafia allegations and separation from his wife are now his principal torments". Mr Berlusconi's estranged wife, Veronica Lario, is said to be seeking a £3m-a-month divorce settlement, and a messy courtroom battle looms. Mr Berlusconi also faces a retrial on the charge that he bribed the British lawyer David Mills to lie in court.
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Paris charity auction staged to save the ancient city of Tyre
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Ian Watkins: Paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences, as judge labels him a 'dangerous sexual predator'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas has come early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£21999 - £27001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have exten...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£42000 - £51000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Are You Receiving...