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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Two mobsters called to testify in a Palermo trial didn't corroborate the testimony of a Mafia hitman


15:52 |

Two mobsters called to testify in a Palermo trial didn't corroborate the testimony of a Mafia hitman who last week said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a close associate gave the mob political reassurances in the early 1990s.The mobsters appeared Friday at the trial of an Italian senator and a former business associate of Mr. Berlusconi. Giuseppe Graviano, a Mafia boss who, along with his brother Filippo, is serving multiple life sentences for bombings and murder, declined to testify.Filippo Graviano told the court through a video link that he had never had any direct or indirect contact with the Italian senator on trial.The case is the appeals trial of Marcello Dell'Utri, a member of the Italian Senate. Mr. Dell'Utri was an employee of Mr. Berlusconi when the Italian billionaire ran his family's media empire.Prosecutors on Friday were expected to ask Giuseppe Graviano whether he could corroborate testimony given last week in the trial by hitman Gaspare Spatuzza, who said Mr. Graviano had told him that Messrs. Berlusconi and Dell'Utri had "practically put the country in our hands" before Mr. Berlusconi was elected to his first term as prime minister in the spring of 1994.
But Mr. Graviano -- who addressed the court through a video link -- invoked his right to remain silent. Mr. Graviano said he had sent a letter to the court explaining why he was unable to testify because of health reasons. He didn't elaborate on the letter or the health issues.Moments earlier, a judge had asked Filippo Graviano if he had ever had "direct or indirect" contact with Mr. Dell'Utri, and he responded: "No.Mr. Berlusconi isn't involved in the appeals trial, nor is he under investigation for any crime related to the Mafia. Lawyers for Messrs. Berlusconi and Dell'Utri have repeatedly denied any contact between their clients and members of the Graviano family.


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