Ex-Berlusconi deputy and mafia convict arrested in Dubai

Police in Dubai on Thursday arrested a former lawmaker from Silvio Berlusconi's party known for his mafia connections, Italian news agency Ansa said.

Amedeo Matacena had been on the run from Italian authorities for several months when he was arrested at Dubai's airport as he got off a plane from the Seychelles.

Once a member of parliament for Forza Italia -- the party formed and led by ex-Italian prime minister Berlusconi, which was dissolved and reborn as the People of Freedom party -- Matacena was sentenced to five years in prison in 2010 for collusion with the powerful Calabrian mafia, known as the 'Ndrangheta.

He disappeared when the sentence was confirmed in June.

The entrepreneur, who hails from a family of shipowners known for opening the first ferry service linking southern Italy to Sicily via the Strait of Messina, was twice elected to parliament in 1994 and 2001.

Matacena was linked to the Rosmini mafia clan during an investigation that started in the 1990s into hundreds of unsolved crimes believed to involve the mafia.

Of the four main mafia groups in Italy -- the 'Ndrangheta, the Camorra in Naples, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the less well-known Sacra Corona Unita in southeast Italy -- the Calabrian organisation has become the most feared in recent years.

The 'Ndrangheta turns over tens of billions of euros in profit a year, mostly from drug trafficking, according to various estimates.