Silvio Berlusconi’s messenger to the Mafia Marcello dell’Utri seized in Beirut after going on the run



The man widely believed to have been ex-premier Silvo Berlusconi’s go-between with Cosa Nostra – the Sicilian Mafia – has been seized in Beirut by Interpol agents after appearing to flee Italy days ahead of a Supreme Court ruling in which he may be sentenced to seven years in prison for Mafia association.

The dramatic capture of Marcello dell’Utri, the former senator, provides a reminder of the mogul’s murky past, even as judges in Milan are debating which form of community service Berlusconi should be dealt for his tax fraud conviction in August last year.

Dell’Utri was traced to the five-star Hotel Phoenicia through use of his credit card and mobile phone.

The Interior Minister Angelino Alfano announced that Dell’Utri, 72, was being held in a Lebanese police station, adding that extradition proceedings would be started “immediately”. Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation is due decide tomorrow whether or not to uphold the ex-senator’s seven-year sentence for Mafia association.

In September last year Palermo’s appeals court upheld an earlier ruling that Dell’Utri was guilty of links with the Mob. It issued a 476-page report setting out how Dell’Utri functioned as Berlusconi’s key emissary with Cosa Nostra for 20 years. Around 40 former Mafia members have given evidence that the Palermo-born politician and businessman was Berlusconi’s key emissary with Cosa Nostra.

As far back as 1974, Dell’Utri hired the high-level Cosa Nostra figure Vittorio Mangano to work as the “stable master” in Berlusconi’s Arcore villa. It is widely believed that Mangano’s presence was to deter other criminal groups from kidnapping the mogul’s children, and that Berlusconi chose – or was obliged – to launder millions pounds of mob money.

A variety of explanations has emerged to explain Dell’Utri’s sudden flight to the Middle East. Dell’Utri, in a statement issued through his lawyer, Giuseppe di Peri, said on Friday that he had left the country for medical tests and some rest after undergoing an angioplasty a few weeks ago. 

After Dell’Utri was arrested on Saturday in the possession of €30,000 in cash, his lawyer denied he had fled justice: “It goes against logic to think that Marcello dell’Utri decided to escape Italian justice by fleeing to a country where he used his own passport,” he said.

Corriere Della Sera reported that Dell’Utri had been making use of his time abroad to arrange business deals that looked to invest millions of euros of Berlusconi’s money.

Berlusconi, however, has claimed that he had sent Dell’Utri to Lebanon at the request of Vladimir Putin, in order to help Amine Gemayel, a former Lebanese President.

The pair appear utterly loyal to each other. Two years ago when Dell’Utri appeared on the verge of a jail sentence for his Mob links, Berlusconi offered to buy to the Dell’Utri villa for twice its market value. Italian media speculated that the €21m purchase was to smooth over the effects of seven years of incarceration.Dell’Utri also has a spot in the tycoon’s Arcore mausoleum.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk