Berlusconi associate Dell'Utri deported from Lebanon

Former senator Marcello Dell'Utri in court during his appeal trial in December 2009 Ex-senator Marcello Dell'Utri helped launch Berlusconi's political career

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A former business ally of Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi convicted of Mafia links has been extradited from Lebanon to Italy.

Marcello Dell'Utri, 72, was handed over to Italian police at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Friday.

He fled to Lebanon in April, shortly before Italy's Supreme Court upheld a seven-year jail term against him for Mafia links.

Dell'Utri was a manager in Berlusconi's media empire and close political ally.

He helped launch Berlusconi's conservative Forza Italia party in 1993, which soon went on to an election triumph.

He also served as a senator and his friendship with Berlusconi dates back to their student days.

Both men deny having had any dealings with the Mafia and Berlusconi has not been tried in connection with the affair.

Berlusconi, 77, is doing a year's community service after being stripped of his Senate seat and convicted of tax fraud.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves to supporters as his girlfriend Francesca Pascale looks on Berlusconi was not charged in the Dell'Utri case, although he was convicted of tax fraud in another

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