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Italy's president testifies at Mafia trial

Giorgio Napolitano, president of Italy, was called as a witness to testify in an anti-Mafia trial in Rome on Tuesday.

By JC Finley
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, pictured in 2010, testified on Oct. 27, 2014, at an anti-Mafia trial in Rome, Italy. (UPI/Alexis C. Glenn)
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, pictured in 2010, testified on Oct. 27, 2014, at an anti-Mafia trial in Rome, Italy. (UPI/Alexis C. Glenn) | License Photo

ROME, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appeared in a courtroom in Rome on Tuesday to testify about his awareness of alleged government collusion with the Mafia in the 1990s.

Tuesday's 3 1/2-hour hearing was held behind closed doors.

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Napolitano, who was called as a witness and is not considered a suspect, has maintained he has "no useful knowledge" about the purported deal.

Prosecutors suspect Napolitano was not aware of the deal at the time it was made but may have been told details about it in later years.

In response to the prosecutor's questioning, Italy's presidential palace said after the hearing that Napolitano had "replied to questions without citing either confidentiality restraints linked to his constitutional prerogative or objections."

According to the prosecution, government officials collaborated with the Costra Nostra to end a series of violent attacks against anti-Mafia prosecutors in the 1990s, agreeing in exchange to reduce jail sentences Ten men have are currently on trial, including former Interior Minister Nicola Mancino and jailed Mafia bosses Toto Riina and Benardo Provenzano, for their alleged involvement.

The terms of Tuesday's hearing prohibit the prosecution from asking the president about his conversations Mancino in 2011 and 2012, a court ruled last year.

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