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Ex-fugitive Berlusconi associate faces extortion charges

New charges for Valter Lavitola leads to arrest of another man

03 August, 18:02
Ex-fugitive Berlusconi associate faces extortion charges (ANSA) - Naples, August 3 - A jailed associate of former premier Silvio Berlusconi now faces additional charges on top of previous criminal accusations.

On Friday a new order of arrest came down for Valter Lavitola, who this time is being accused of having plotted with another man to extort Berlusconi.

Prosecutors reckon Lavitola, while he was a fugitive in South America, asked Carmelo Pintabona to contact then premier Berlusconi to hand over a large sum of money.

Both men were arrested Friday for extortion and fraudulent transfer of assets. The new accusation is based on what Lavitola said during an interrogation April 25, ANSA learned.

Finance and court police arrested Pintabona, president of the Federation of Sicilian Associations in South America, in Palermo.

Valter Lavitola, who returned in April after living for six months in South America as a fugitive of Italian justice, is being held in relation to investigations into the alleged involvement of prostitutes at parties at Berlusconi's homes.

Upon ending his exile he was told that he is also being investigated for alleged corruption with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and his government regarding contracts for the construction of prisons in the Central American country.

Lavitola, the former editor of daily newspaper L'Avanti!, was told he is also being probed for criminal association related to the use of public funds for the media along with several other people, including Sergio De Gregorio, a senator with Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party.

In regard to the case linked to the parties at Berlusconi's homes in Rome, Sardinia and at Arcore outside Milan, Lavitola is suspected of giving false testimony and of inducing Bari businessman Giampaolo Tarantini to lie to magistrates about the role the latter allegedly played in supplying prostitutes.

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