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Lebanon News

Italy arrests reveal links to Gemayel’s presidential bid

Former President Amine Gemayel joins a National Dialogue session at Baabda Palace on Monday, May 5, 2014. (The Daily Star/ Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Another Italian political figure was arrested for trying to help a Mafia-convicted businessman flee to Lebanon, with the arrests revealing possible links to Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel’s presidential bid.

The International Business Times said that a former minister under Silvio Berlusconi's government, Claudio Scajola, 66, was arrested Wednesday at a hotel in Rome.

According to the daily, Scajola was cooperating with a Beirut-based wheeler-dealer named as Vincenzo Speziali who organized the plot to get the businessman, shipowner Amedeo Matacena, out of his five-year jail sentence.

Vincenzo Speziali had organized the brief escape of a Berlusconi aide accused of mafia ties, Marcello Dell'Utri, who was arrested in Beirut in April.

This strange Beirut-Italy mafia connection could point to deeper relationships between Lebanese politicians and Italy's Bel Paese Christian centrist establishment, the daily said.

The daily said Speziali is reportedly married to the niece of former Lebanese President Gemayel, leader of the Maronite Christian Kataeb Party.

Gemayel launched an initiative earlier this week to find a way out of the stalemate in the presidential election to choose a successor of President Michel Sleiman, who is due to step down as Lebanese president on May 25.

Italian media said last month that Dell’Utri was sent by Berlusconi at the request of Russia to help Gemayel win the Lebanese presidential election.

 

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