Former Berlusconi cabinet minister arrested by antimafia police

Reuters News
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Posted: May 08, 2014 4:13 AM

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police have arrested Claudio Scajola, industry minister in the last government of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in an investigation into a former party colleague convicted of mafia association, authorities said on Thursday.

Scajola was forced to resign in 2010 over accusations that he bought a luxury flat with the help of a businessman arrested over corruption charges, but was cleared of wrongdoing by a court earlier this year.

Antimafia police in the southern city of Reggio Calabria said Scajola had been arrested over his links with Amedeo Matacena, a Calabrian businessman and former lawmaker from Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia party.

Matacena, convicted over links to 'Ndrangheta, the powerful Calabrian mafia, is currently a fugitive from justice, the DIA antimafia unit said in a statement that did not elaborate on the specific accusations against Scajola.

It said police were now searching properties across Italy and had seized assets worth around 50 million euros ($69.61 million).

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No comment was immediately available from Scajola's lawyer.

Last month Marcello Dell'Utri, another of Berlusconi's inner circle, was arrested in Lebanon. He had been declared a fugitive from justice after leaving Italy before a court was due to deliver a final verdict on charges of mafia collusion.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mark Heinrich)