ROME - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi paid large sums of money to the Sicilian Mafia to protect himself and his family from kidnapping in the mid-1970s, Italy's highest appeals court said on Tuesday.
Cosa Nostra's protection "was not free", the court said, adding that the media magnate was a victim of extortion.
"Berlusconi handed over conspicuous sums of money to the Mafia," the supreme Court of Cassation said in a 146-page document explaining its decision last month to quash a trial against Marcello Dell'Utri, a Sicilian who worked for Berlusconi in those years.
In the 1970s, Italian criminal organizations routinely kidnapped wealthy people or their children, often in the wealthy north of the country, and held them for ransom.
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