Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has testified in a high-profile trial and denied any links between the state and the mafia in the country, SIA reports quoting the AA.
Napolitano told prosecutors Tuesday that a bombing campaign in the 90s, which was blamed on the mafia had sought to improve prison conditions of a crime don.
The head of state, however, denied any knowledge about alleged secret deals between the state and mafia boss Cosa Nostra.
Former Italian interior minister Nicola Mancino is charged with holding secret negotiations with mob boss Toto Riina to stop the bombings in 1990s, when Napolitano was speaker of Italy’s lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies.
Some sections of the media have long accused Napolitano of being aware of a cover-up to hide the purported talks. But during his testimony on oath to a special court session in the Quirinal Palace's Bronze Room, the head of state strongly denied any such compromise with crime syndicates.
Judge Vittorio Teresi, a prosecutor from the Sicilian capital Palermo, said "the president gave us an important contribution to the search for truth."
"This was an extraordinary result from the point of view of the trial because Napolitano said that after the massacres in Rome, Florence and Milan in 93, all the highest institutions understood that they were part of the murderous plan of Cosa Nostra aimed at issuing an ultimatum: either prison conditions would benefit or there would be more destabilization. This for us is the heart of the trial."
Reporters were banned from attending the closed door, three-hour hearing. The Quirinal Palace strongly denied reports that Napolitano had used his prerogative as head of state to refuse to answer any question put to him, including those by a defense lawyer for the former "boss of bosses" Riina.
Earlier this week, Riina was quoted as boasting in his jail cell to another inmate about how he led an almost normal life during 24 years on the run, including enjoying a honeymoon with his wife in Naples and Venice.