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Berlusconi ally denies link with Mafia

An ally of Premier Silvio Berlusconi who was convicted of associating with the Sicilian Mafia has denied being a link between that criminal syndicate and the media mogul.

In TV and radio interviews broadcast Saturday, Marcello Dell'Utri, a senator in Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party, dismissed the Sicilian appeals court's ruling in June that he was an associate of Cosa Nostra as a "fairy tale."

The panel of judges in a 600-page document explained why it convicted Dell'Utri. It said he served as a kind of "mediator" between Mafia bosses and Berlusconi in the years before the premier entered politics.

The judges wrote that Dell'Utri helped secure the Mafia's OK for Berlusconi to set up TV transmitters on Sicily decades ago.