Lavitola gets 2 yrs 8 mths for Berlusconi 'blackmail'
Wheeler-dealer tried to get payment for hushing up escort case04 March, 14:04
Prosecutors said Lavitola, while he was a fugitive in South America and reportedly doing various jobs for Berlusconi, asked Argentinian-Italian businessman Carmelo Pintabona to get then premier Berlusconi to hand over a large sum of money.
Pintabona was acquitted Monday.
Lavitola, the former editor of daily newspaper L'Avanti!, was convicted of trying to extort the money in exchange for inducing Bari businessman Giampaolo Tarantini to lie about escorts Tarantini took to the ex-premier's residences.
Berlusconi has always denied paying for sex and says he believes the young women were not prostitutes. Lavitola, also reported to have had a key role in procuring a false document from a Caribbean island to keep ex-House speaker Gianfranco Fini, a key Berlusconi friend-turned-foe, embroiled in an alleged scandal over a house in Monte Carlo, is also linked to Senator Sergio De Gregorio, a Senator who confessed to prosecutors that he received three million euros from Berlusconi to switch sides after being elected for Romano Prodi in 2006.
Wiretaps published in the Italian media appear to show Lavitola boasting about being able to turn other Senators to undermine the Prodi government, which crumbled after two years.
Lavitola, who came back to Italy last year after a self-imposed exile which Berlusconi advised, is also involved in alleged corruption with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and his government regarding contracts for the construction of prisons in the Central American country.