It’s not that surprising that Berlusconi is again in the news for alleged links to the mafia. What is surprising, however, is in this case, Berlusconi is alleged to be the victim of blackmail from an Italian Senator, reports Reuters.Even more surprising, however, is that the man who allegedly blackmailed Berlusconi, Marcello Dell’Utri, is supposed to be one of his closest friends and allies.
Dell’Utri, regarded as Berlusconi’s right hand man, is a founding member of of the former PM’s Forza Italia party and a business partner of Berlusconi’s since 1974. He is also the man who introduced Berlusconi to Vittorio Mangano, a man with an extensive criminal record and ties to Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia. Mangano would become Berlusconi’s chauffeur, reports the Economist.
It’s also important to know that Dell’Utri was tried and found guilty of association with the mafia in 2004, reports Al Jazeera. He is appealing the decision and a Palermo court reduced his sentence from nine to seven years but maintained that Dell’Utri mediated between the mafia and several Berlusconi companies for the mafia’s protection.
In this most recent case, Dell’Utri supposedly blackmailed Berlusconi over alleged mafia links, demanding payment in exchange for not revealing information he had knowledge of between Berlusconi and organised criminals. More specifically, investigators are focusing on the sale of a villa on Lake Como by Dell’Utri to Berlusconi for over €20 million, reports Reuters.
Dell’Utri vehemently denies the charge and explained that he had only heard of the charges brought against him when they were reported in the press.
“Now it’s extortion. They’re just missing accusing me of pedophilia and I’d have the lot,” he told reporters, Reuters reports. “I have certainly never blackmailed anyone, least of all my friend Silvio.”
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