Berlusconi won't testify about alleged political-Mafia links

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has declined to testify at the appeals trial of a long-time associate convicted of trying to be a bridge between mobsters and politicians

ROME -- Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has declined to testify at the appeals trial of a long-time associate convicted of trying to be a bridge between mobsters and politicians.

Berlusconi told the court in Palermo, Sicily, on Monday that his lawyers advised him not to answer questions. He also refused to be photographed or filmed while in the courtroom.

Prosecutors have alleged that Sicily's Cosa Nostra sought to approach politicians in a bid for less harsh laws against Mafiosi.

In 2018, a close Berlusconi associate, Marcello Dell'Utri, a former senator in the ex-premier's party, was convicted by a lower court in a case indicating collusion between Cosa Nostra and state institutions after deadly Mafia bombings in Florence, Rome and Milan in 1993, designed to intimidate political leaders.

Berlusconi first became premier in 1994.