SILVIO Berlusconi's closest and long-serving political henchman was declared a fugitive yesterday having reportedly fled Italy days before a court rules on a seven-year jail term on charges of colluding with the mafia.
Marcello Dell'Utri, who co-founded Berlusconi's Forza Italia party with him in the early Nineties, was suspected of fleeing to Beirut before heading for Africa.
Sicilian-born Dell'Utri (72), has been on trial for acting as a middle man between the Sicilian mafia and Milan companies, including those of Berlusconi, who has not faced charges. The hunt for Dell'Utri began after suspicions grew he was planning to flee Italy. His brother, Alberto, was wiretapped in November claiming Dell'Utri had lunched in Rome with an important Lebanese politician and was planning to go there. Prosecutors said Dell'Utri's mobile phone had been traced to Beirut on April 3. Alberto Dell'Utri was also overhead claiming his brother had secured a diplomatic passport from Guinea Bissau. (©Daily Telegraph, London)