An international hunt is on to track down former Italian Senator and one-time ally of Silvio Berlusconi Marcello Dell’Utri.
The court in Palermo this week issued a warrant for his arrest ahead of a final ruling on charges of mafia collusion.
The 72-year-old was sentenced to seven years in jail in March last year but was released pending a final appeal lodged with Italy’s highest court.
The arrest warrant was issued after prosecutors said they had evidence he was abroad. In a statement Dell’Utri claimed he did not want to hide adding he was already outside the country “to get some rest and medical treatment”. His lawyer said he did not know his client was abroad.
Gaspare Spatuzza, a convicted murderer and Mafia member, testified in the appeals trial of Dell’Utri. At the time he also linked Silvio Berlusconi to the Mafia claiming the former prime minister would provide “benefits” for the organisation in exchange for support in elections.
Berlusconi was not a defendant in the trial. He and Marcello Dell’Utri have been friends since they attended university together in Milan in the early 1960s. Dell’Utri became a key adviser when Berlusconi entered politics after making a rapid fortune, and helped him establish his own political party from scratch in the 1990s.