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Berlusconi ally declared fugitive

A long-time ally of Silvio Berlusconi has been declared a fugitive days before Italy's highest court hears his final appeal against his conviction for mafia association

Anti-mafia investigators said authorities have been trying for four days to execute an arrest warrant against Marcello Dell'Utri but have been unable to find him.

Dell'Utri was an executive in Berlusconi's business empire and a former senator in the ex-premier's conservative movement.

The court that convicted him of mafia association said he had acted as a mediator between mafia bosses and Berlusconi before the premier entered politics.

He faces seven years in prison, and the high court hears his final appeal next week.

Dell'Utri denies any ties to the Sicilian mafia, and any link between the crime syndicate and Berlusconi.

Hours after being declared a fugitive, Dell'Utri issued a statement saying he has undergone surgery recently and was under medical care abroad. He added that he had no intention to flee justice.

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