BEIRUT: Police detained former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's senior aide in Beirut over an Interpol arrest warrant, a security source told The Daily Star Saturday.
Members of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch arrested the man identified as Marcello Dell’Utri in a Beirut neighborhood on charges of forming a mafia, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Berlusconi and Dell’Utri have denied links to the mafia.
Dell’Utri, 72, had reportedly fled to Beirut and was expected to head to Africa to escape trial for working as a go between for the Sicilian Mafia and the Milan business elite.
According to the Telegraph, Dell’Utri founded Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party with him in the early 1990s and became a senator in the party.
On Friday, Dell’Utri issued a statement, saying he was overseas to obtain medical treatment and was not escaping justice.
Rome declared him a fugitive on April 8 after reports said he was in Lebanon.
The State Prosecution office is expected to communicate with Italian authorities over the issue through the Interpol office in Beirut.
"He was captured and is now in a Lebanese police office," Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, a former Berlusconi ally who broke with the centre-right leader last year, told Reuters.
"His capture was obviously connected to an extradition procedure that the Italian government, through the justice ministry, will activate immediately," Alfano added.