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24-yr prison term for Italy ex-PM

Rome, Nov 18 (Reuters): An Italian court sentenced former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to 24 years in prison yesterday on charges of complicity in the 1979 murder of a muckraking journalist, overturning a previous acquittal.

The shock ruling took Italy and its seven times Prime Minister by surprise. Andreotti, now 83 and a senator for life, was acquitted of the charges in a first trial three years ago, following accusations first levelled by a Mafia turncoat.

The court also convicted Gaetano Badalamenti, a Mafia boss already serving a prison term in the United States, for his alleged part in the murder conspiracy, the defendants' lawyers said yesterday. Andreotti — a giant of Italian post-war politics, popularly dubbed “Mr Italy” — will remain at liberty while he appeals the latest court decision with Italy's highest appeals court. “It’s complete insanity,” Andreotti's lawyer Franco Coppi said by telephone from the central city of Perugia.

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