"Marcello Dell'Utri, 72, was a most closed political ally and friend of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi since the 1970s. He founded with him the centre-right Forza Italia - party in 1994. He was repeatedly elected to parliament with FI party, twice as senator in 2001 and 2008."
Rome, April 13 - Italy is seeking to extradite ex-senator Marcello Dell'Utri, a mafia linked suspect and Silvio Berlusconi's former political ally, who was arrested in Lebanon, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Saturday.

Alfano made the announcement while addressing the assembly of his New Centre Right - party in Rome.

Mr Dell'Utri is currently held in Lebanese police offices. He was tracked down in Beirut by Lebanese authorities, which are in contact with Italian police in compliance with the international arrest warrant, Xinhua quoted Alfano as saying.

Italy will initiate the extradition procedure immediately, Alfano added.

Justice Minister Andrea Orlando was reportedly expected to put his signature and give the go ahead to the request of extradition within a few hours.

The mafia linked suspect was arrested Friday night, authorities said. According to local media, he was found in a luxury hotel of the Lebanese capital.

Marcello Dell'Utri, 72, was a most closed political ally and friend of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi since the 1970s. He founded with him the centre-right Forza Italia - party in 1994. He was repeatedly elected to parliament with FI party, twice as senator in 2001 and 2008.

The Palermo Appeal Court issued a European arrest warrant for Dell'Utri Wednesday, after police and prosecutors had revealed the man was not on Italian territory anymore.


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