The former Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, has been cleared by a court in Sicily of having links with the Mafia. At the end of a four-year trial, a panel of three judges found Mr Andreotti not guilty of allowing the Mafia to operate with virtual impunity in return for supporting his Christian Democratic Party. Mr Andreotti, who is 80, was the leader of seven Italian governments. Last month a court in the city of Perugia found him not guilty of murder conspiracy charges. Today's acquittal will help to restore a reputation tarnished by links with a political system that was brought down in a series of corruption trials in the early 1990s.