Sicilian senator jailed for Mafia links


An Italian appeals court has convicted Sicily's former governor Salvatore Cuffaro, currently a senator, of aiding and abetting the Mafia and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

The court upheld a 2008 conviction and added two more years to Cuffaro's initial five-year sentence.

Cuffaro, who resigned as governor after his first conviction, was found guilty of helping people linked to the Mafia and divulging confidential information about anti-mob investigations.

The appeals court also convicted him of the separate and more serious charge of aiding and abetting the Mafia, of which he was cleared at the first trial.

Cuffaro denied all charges against him and said he will make a final appeal to Italy's highest court.

"I know I am not a Mafioso and that I have never helped the Mafia," he told reporters.

If he loses his second appeal, Cuffaro will have to serve his sentence. In Italy sentences are generally enforced only once the appeals process has been exhausted.

Prosecutors accused Cuffaro of being part of a group that indirectly helped the Sicilian Mafia - locally called Cosa Nostra - by leaking confidential information on anti-mob investigations and had sought eight years in prison.

Cuffaro is a member of the small centrist Union of Christian Democrats party (UDC). The party is not in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's current coalition but was part of his previous governments.