This is a video about the Mafia.
Mob Witness Links Berlusconi to Mafia Bombings
Published: December 4, 2009
Filed at 7:45 a.m. ET
TURIN, Italy – A jailed Mafia hitman linked Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to the Cosa Nostra on Friday, telling a court that a godfather convicted for a 1993 bombing campaign had boasted of his links to the media mogul.
Stripped of immunity from prosecution, the prime minister faced legal difficulties on two fronts on Friday, with an ally appealing against conviction on Mafia charges and an unrelated corruption case where he is accused of bribing a British lawyer.
Mafia “pentito,” or mobster-turned-witness, Gaspare Spatuzza told a court in Turin that a Mafia clan leader later jailed for the attacks had named Berlusconi, who had not entered politics at the time, in connection with the bombings.
He recounted a meeting with clan boss Giuseppe Graviano — later given multiple life sentences along with his brother for the bombings in Rome, Milan and Florence — in a cafe on Rome’s Via Veneto early 1994, after the deadly bombing campaign.
“Graviano told me we had obtained everything, thanks to the seriousness of the people who’d helped with our affair … he mentioned two names, he called Berlusconi ‘the man from Channel 5’,” said Spatuzza, referring to a Mediaset television channel.
He quoted Graviano saying: “We have everything thanks to the seriousness of these people, specifically Berlusconi.” …
Spatuzza was speaking in open court for the first time as part of an appeal by pro-Berlusconi senator Marcello Dell’Utri against his conviction for association with the Mafia. He spoke behind a screen in a maximum-security room packed with reporters. …
Berlusconi has threatened to sue newspapers that reported he was being investigated and that the mob had a stake in his business. …
A Milan court trying Berlusconi in an unrelated case for bribing British lawyer David Mills with $600,000 in 1997 to withhold evidence about his business conceded that his official duties were a legitimate reason to postpone the trial.
Berlusconi‘s lawyers argued he had to meet his cabinet and then open a new highway in southern Italy instead of attending Friday’s first hearing in the case, where Mills has already been sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison, pending an appeal.
Berlusconi later changed his plans and did not attend the highway opening but remained in Rome.
Berlusconi‘s trial for corruption in the Mills case had been suspended thanks to an immunity law he passed. But this was then ruled unconstitutional, letting two pending trials resume.
In another trial, for tax fraud and false accounting in the acquisition of media rights by Mediaset, prosecutors say the company paid an inflated price to offshore firms controlled by Berlusconi.
No Berlusconi Day report: here. And here.
Italy’s highest court overturned a guilty verdict for a British lawyer accused of taking a bribe to lie in court in the 1990s to protect Premier Silvio Berlusconi, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired: here.
The newly elected regional president of Sicily took office in the Norman Palace in Palermo on November 12 . Unlike almost every Sicilian president since the Second World War, Rosario Crocetta is not a Christian Democrat and minion of the Mafia but comes from the Communist Party, was a member of the Stalinist Communist Refoundation party and is considered an active Mafia opponent. As mayor of Gela, he twice narrowly escaped assassination attempts by the Cosa Nostra: here.
- Berlusconi sentenced to four years in prison (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Former Italian premier jailed for fraud (nzherald.co.nz)
- Italy Court Convicts Berlusconi of Tax Evasion (world.time.com)
- Berlusconi ‘obliged’ to stay in Italian politics – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- Berlusconi convicted, and now? (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Italy’s ‘Teflon Don’ Silvio Berlusconi finally comes unstuck after guilty ruling (independent.co.uk)
- Court orders prison term for Berlusconi (bigpondnews.com)
- Silvio Berlusconi defiant after Italian supreme court confirms jail term (theguardian.com)
- Silvio Berlusconi’s prison sentence upheld by Italian supreme court (theguardian.com)
- When Berlusconi met the boss (mafiology.com)
Berlusconi bribery trial starts
PM a no-show in Mills case amid ‘legitimate impediment’ row
04 December, 14:53
Berlusconi bribery trial starts (ANSA) – Milan, December 4 – Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi went on trial Friday in a reactivated case for allegedly bribing British lawyer David Mills, but did not attend.
The court accepted Berlusconi’s defence team’s argument that a cabinet meeting in Rome was a “legitimate impediment’ to his travelling to Milan.
But it rejected the lawyers’ argument that another scheduled engagement, a ribbon-cutting on a southern Italian highway, could also be considered an impediment of such importance as to warrant skipping a hearing.
They ruled that this was because it was not an institutional duty for the premier. In the end, the premier did not attend the motorway ceremony. Earlier, prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale argued that Berlusconi could have moved the cabinet meeting or even cut it short in order to attend the trial.
Berlusconi’s lawyer and a member of his People of Freedom (PdL) party, Nicolo’ Ghedini, said De Pasquale’s “extraordinary” argument left him “speechless”.
Other PdL members blasted what they saw as the judiciary’s hijacking of political prerogatives. PdL House whip Fabrizio Cicchitto accused the prosecutor of “wanting to set the premier’s agenda and even assessing the importance of his engagements”.
Others said the episode made it even more “imperative” that parliament enshrine the impediment principle in Italian law, according to a bill that has just been framed.
One claimed Italy was threatened by “judicial sovereignty” and another said the prosecutor’s “invasion into the political field” was a “twisted interpretation of the law”.
The legitimate impediment bill is the latest in a string of moves which Berlusconi critics say are tailor-made to protect the premier from prosecutors he claims have been hounding him ever since the media mogul entered politics in 1994. Berlusconi was removed from the Mills trial by an immunity law passed by his government last year but the law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in October.
The judges in the first trial have been required to step down because they found Mills guilty and a fresh set of judges, all of them women, has taken up the case.
Findings and evidence admitted during Berlusconi’s involvement in the first proceedings, up to October 2008, have been ruled admissible in the second one.
However, Ghedini said this does not necessarily mean they can effectively be used, vowing to fight each instance.
In the case, Berlusconi is accused of paying Mills $600,000 to hush up evidence in two previous corruption trials.
Mills has been found guilty twice in the case and has one appeal left against his four-and-a-half year sentence.
Another trial against Berlusconi, for alleged irregularities in the sale of film rights, restarted last month.
On that occasion, also, the premier did not attend because he was hosting a world food summit in Rome.
The trial was adjourned until December 14.
Before announcing the ‘legitimate impediment’ bill earlier this week, the Pdl had said it would present a new version of the immunity law, this time as a constitutional amendment which it believed would be acceptable to the Constitutional Court.
The centre-right government is also framing a controversial law to cut the duration of trials, for crimes carrying less than a 10-year penalty, to a mandatory two years for each of the three stages.
Should that law be approved, both of Berlusconi’s trials would be annulled by the statute of limitations.
Political pundits now think, however, that the impediment law will be passed sooner.
House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, who has been at loggerheads with Berlusconi lately and fiercely attacked by a conservative daily owned by the premier’s brother, is seen as under pressure to fast-track the bill.
The main centre-left opposition party, the Democratic Party, has indicated Italy should have a law that enables top officials to do their jobs, putting off trials until they leave office.
But it is opposed to measures solely in favour of Berlusconi.
Friday’s hearing was adjourned until January 15.
Other hearings have been scheduled on January 29 and 30 and February 13 and 27.
Ghedini said Berlusconi “might” be able to attend the latter two.
Mafia turncoat talks about premier
Berlusconi and aide dismiss ‘absurd’ claims
04 December, 15:24
Mafia turncoat talks about premier (ANSA) – Rome, December 4 – A Mafia turncoat told an appeals court on Friday that another mobster had told him that Premier Silvio Berlusconi and one of his close aides were connected to and helped Cosa Nostra.
Gaspare Spatuzza, a mafioso-turned state witness, said that Giuseppe Graviano, a powerful boss who was later convicted for a string of bombings in 1993, confided that Berlusconi and aide Marcello Dell’Utri, had “practically placed the country in our hands”.
Spatuzza alleged that during a meeting at a Rome bar in 1994, Gravina told him that Berlusconi and Dell’Utri, a fellow Sicilian, were “serious people” who had given the Mafia a hand.
The informant was testifying at the appeal trial of Dell’Utri, a former Berlusconi business aide and Senator with his People of Freedom party who was convicted of helping the Mafia in 2004.
Dell’Utri, who worked for the Berlusconi holding company Fininvest from 1974 till 1994 and then played a key role in creating Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party in the early 1990s, denies all charges.
During the first, seven-year-long trial prosecutors argued that the Palermo-born Dell’Utri acted as an ambassador for the Mob with politicians, businessmen and other powerful figures in Milan.
During that trial, another mafia turncoat, Antonino Giuffre’, claimed that Berlusconi – a media tycoon who had not yet entered politics – met in the early ’80s with the Mafia’s then top dog Stefano Bontade, using Vittorio Mangano, a middle-ranking Mafia boss who once worked as stable manager at his estate, as a go-between.
According to Giuffre’, Dell’Utri was Cosa Nostra’s leading connection with Forza Italia, which he alleges has received Mafia support in exchange for political favours.
Dell’Utri told reporters he had never met Graviano and that Spatuzza’s accusations were “absurd”. “Faced with these kinds of accusations, a normal person either goes crazy or shoots himself,” said the PdL senator, adding that Spatuzza was not in fact “an anti-Mafia informant but a (real) Mafioso”.
“I’m serene but this is a truly incredible show…it’s like being at the theatre,” said the senator, who stressed that the government’s anti-Mafia record contradicted the turncoat’s claims.
“The Mafia has an interest in doing its bit to bring down the Berlusconi government because it’s done the most in the fight to beat the Mafia,” he said.
“His aim is to bring down the Berlusconi government. There can’t be any other explanation for it”.
Government sources said that the premier was unfazed by Spatuzza’s allegations, telling cabinet members it was all part of an “absurd trap” against him.
He reportedly urged Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to provide other cabinet members with a list of achievements in the government’s anti-Mafia campaigns. He appeared to take the accusations in his stride, telling jokes and making quips, said the sources.
Berlusconi has repeatedly claimed he is the victim of a witch-hunt by an allegedly leftist judiciary while Dell’Utri insists that the the Mafia charges against him have been mounted for political reasons.
Government spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti said it was “logical for the Mafia to use its members” to attack a government which has taken “tough and concrete measures” against organised crime.
The government has “achieved extraordinary achievements which are unprecedented over the last 20 years in the fight against the Mafia,” Bonaiuti said in a statement. Spatuzza told the court he decided to repent after converting in jail thanks to a prison priest.
“I was at a crossroad: either God or Cosa Nostra”.
Obama primo, in una rilevazione svolta in Francia, Germania, Inghilterra, Italia, Spagna e Stati Uniti. Il “nano” premier e’ 16esimo, preceduto anche da Chavez e Fidel Castro e seguito da Medvedev, Hu Jintao, Karzai e Ahmadinejad.
Il barometro dei leader mondiali, in un sondaggio sulla popolarita’ svolto in Europa e America, non e’ lusinghiero per Silvio Berlusconi. Stando all’ultima rilevazione dell’istituto di ricerca Harris Interactive svolta in Francia, Germania, Inghilterra, Italia, Spagna e Stati Uniti, i fattori salienti sulla popolarita; dei maggiori leader sono: 1) la bassa popolarita’ di Barack Obama negli Stati Uniti non si riscontra in Europa, dove il presidente Usa e’ al primo posto. 2) Il premier italiano e’ scivolato al 16esimo posto in classifica, dietro i comunisti Hugo Chavez e Fidel Castro. In una classifica che non ha bisogno di commenti, altre notazioni flash sono: Angela Merkel e’ in salita, Nicola Sarkosy e Gordon Brown continuano a scendere, il Papa e’ ben piazzato. I risultati del sondaggio sono stati diffusi il 4 dicembre dal canale televisivo FRANCE 24 e «Paris Direct».
Ecco la TOP 20:
01 Barack Obama 76%
02 Dalai Lama 71
03 Angela Merkel 59
04 Tony Blair 49
05 Benedict XVI 43
06 Nicolas Sarkozy 39
07 Jose-Luis Zapatero 38
08 Ban Ki-Moon 37
09 Gordon Brown 36
10 José Manuel Barroso 34
11 L. I. Lula da Silva 29
12 Benyamin Netanyahou 22
13 Vladimir Putin 20
14 Hugo Chavez 17
15 Fidel Castro 17
16 Silvio Berlusconi 16
17 Dmitri Medvedev 15
18 Hu Jintao 12
19 Hamid Karzai 11
20 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5
Minister in Berlusconi’s cabinet to stand trial
2009-12-12 12:32 AM
A minister in Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government has been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges.
The Ministry for Regional Affairs said Raffaele Fitto was indicted Friday by a court in Bari, southern Italy. He faces charges including illegal party financing. Prosecutors allege he awarded a public works project in exchange for (EURO)500,000 ($736,000) in 2004, when he headed the Puglia region. He allegedly used the money to fund his party.
Fitto denies any wrongdoing. He said in a statement that he will face trial “with absolute serenity.”
Berlusconi himself is facing charges of tax fraud and corruption in two separate, unrelated trials in Milan. He denies wrongdoing in both.
Magistrates strike over Silvio’s slurs
Italy Magistrates walked out on strike at the weekend in protest at attacks by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
National Magistrates union leader Gioacchino Natoli said that Mr Berlusconi had described judges as “executioners, communists, sewage and a cancer.”
“These are some of the words that the prime minister and his deputies have used to describe us, and we are on strike because we don’t want to be subject to this continued aggression,” he declared.
Berlusconi acts to save his skin
Italy: President Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition pushed through a proposed law on Wednesday that would spare the Italian leader from prosecution while in office.
Mr Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party passed a bill in the lower house that would allow the premier and cabinet ministers to postpone hearings for six months in any ongoing trial in which they are implicated. The measure requires Senate approval.
‘Forza Italia born from Mafia talks’
State’s witness claims ‘highly dubious’, says Cosa Nostra expert
08 February, 17:22
‘Forza Italia born from Mafia talks’ (ANSA) – Palermo, February 8 – The party launched by Premier Silvio Berlusconi at the outset of his political career grew out of talks between Cosa Nostra and the state, a prosecutor’s witness claimed Monday in statements that a top Mafia expert later said were ‘higly dubious’.
Massimo Ciancimino, son of the late Palermo Mayor, is on the stand in the trial of former domestic intelligence chief Mario Mori, who is accused of letting super boss Bernardo Provenzano escape in 1995.
Ciancimino alleges that Mori and his father, Vito, were go-betweens in negotiations between the Mafia and the state in the 1990s to stop a bombing campaign by Provenzano’s co-boss Salvatore (Toto’) Riina that claimed the lives of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. On Monday, he claimed Berlusconi’s Forza Italia was a ”product” of those negotiations, which also looked at where to invest the Mafia’s ”political capital” after the Clean-Hands scandals toppled the powerful Christian Democrat and Italian Socialist parties in the early 1990s.
During the hearing, Ciancimino produced a note supposedly written by the Mafia superboss to Berlusconi’s long-time aide, Marcello Dell’Utri, containing a veiled threat directed at Berlusconi’s son meant as a warning not to renege on their agreement.
The note also supposedly showed the Mafia’s interest in Berlusconi’s Mediaset television network, saying the premier ”ought to place it at our disposal”.
”My father told me that this note was an aspect of negotiations that had been going on for years,” Ciancimino claimed.
The letter was supposedly co-addressed to Berlusconi himself with an extra line suggesting that Provenzano was “running out of patience”.
Ciancimino later claimed he’d been confronted by a secret service agent in 2006, while under house arrest for money laundering charges, who told him not to talk about the state’s alleged negotiations with the Mafia.
He said that since he began collaborating with the police, he had received a number of death threats.
MAFIA EXPERT SAYS CIANCIMINO’S TESTIMONY ‘HIGHLY DUBIOUS’.
Following Ciancimino’s testimony on Monday, an MEP for the opposition Italy of Values Party (Idv) and co-founder of the Italian anti-mafia police, Pino Arlacchi, said he ”didn’t believe a word of it”.
He said Ciancimino was an ”interested and unreliable source” trying to bargain his way out of a four-year jail sentence on charges of money laundering.
Mills charge ‘expired’
Money paid in later, prosecutor says
25 February, 14:13
(ANSA) – Rome, February 25 – British lawyer David Mills’ charge of taking a bribe from Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi should be dropped because too much time has elapsed since the payment took place, a prosecutor at Italy’s highest appeals court said Thursday.
Cassation Court Assistant Prosecutor General Gianfranco Ciani said the $600,000 bribe for committing perjury in two 1990 trials was covered by the statute of limitations.
Before Thursday’s final appeal hearing, legal experts had estimated the statute on the alleged crime would run out on April 11.
This was because a Milan appeals court ruled the crime effectively took place in February 29, 2000, when Mills had the money personally signed over to him.
Instead, the prosecutor argued the clock started ticking almost four months earlier, on November 11, 1999, when Mills ordered the sum to be put into an offshore account.
Defendants should always be granted the benefit of the doubt in such cases of conflicting dates, Ciani argued, citing the Latin principle ‘favor rei’ (“in favour of the defendant”).
If the court agrees with the prosecutor, Mills’ four-and-a-half year sentence, handed down in February and upheld on appeal in October, will be quashed.
Ciani argued, however, that Mills should not be formally acquitted of the charge.
The prosecutor also asked the court to order Mills to pay the premier’s office 250,000 euros for damaging the image of the Italian state, as established by a Milan appeals court.
The final verdict in the Mills case is expected Thursday evening and could have repercussions for Berlusconi’s trial on the same charge which is due to restart on Saturday. The premier was removed from proceedings by a 2008 immunity law but the law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in October.
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