ROME, April 25 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met with Mafia bosses almost 40 years ago and paid them for protection, a court document said.
Italy's high court released a 146-page document including testimony about the activities of a former Berlusconi aide, Sen. Marcello Dell'Utri, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Dell'Utri, who was sentenced to seven years by a court in Palermo for conspiring with the Mafia, is awaiting retrial after winning an appeal.
The document said that Dell'Utri arranged a meeting in 1974 in Milan between Berlusconi and several of the men then running the Sicilian mob. Dell'Utri is also alleged to have been the go-between, handing over "substantial sums" from Berlusconi,
The money was paid to "guarantee the freedom of movement and activities" of Berlusconi, then a leading businessman, and his family, the document said.
Berlusconi stepped down as prime minister in November after fighting sex and financial scandals for several years. He was the longest-serving prime minister in recent Italian history, with a total of nine years in the post in three stints between 1994 and 2011.