ROME - A fugitive wanted in connection with a sex and corruption scandal involving Italy's ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi was arrested Monday as he returned to Italy after six months in South America.
Valter Lavitola, the former editor of the Socialist newspaper Avanti!, was arrested on arrival from Argentina and was transferred to a prison in Naples.
Lavitola allegedly took part in a blackmail plot against the billionaire premier and police had issued a warrant for his arrest in September last year.
Eight people, including businessman Giampaolo Tarantini and German starlet Sabina Began, were charged in September for allegedly supplying Berlusconi with prostitutes in the hope of gaining jobs, contracts or favours in exchange.
Tarantini was also accused of then blackmailing the premier to the tune of 800,000 euros (S$1.32 million).
Lavitola is suspected of having been the middle man for these payments, according to prosecutors.
He is also under investigation for having allegedly bribed members of Panama's government with suitcases stuffed with cash for construction contracts on behalf of third parties, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.
Lavitola had reportedly called Berlusconi from South America asking whether he should return and "clear everything up" but was told to stay put until the scandal had blown over, according to wiretaps published widely in the media.