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Seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti was acquitted of conspiracy to murder Friday in one of the country's most sensational cases, court President Giancarlo Orzella said.

Andreotti, 80, one of the West's towering post-war political figures, is still on trial in the Sicilian capital Palermo on Mafia association charges. The verdict in that case is due in late October or early November. Andreotti was not in court to hear the verdict.

All six defendants -- including former Foreign Trade Minister Claudio Vitalone, Andreotti's political ally, convicted Mafia bosses Gaetano Badalamenti and Pippo Calo, Mafia hit man Michelangelo La Barbera and common criminal Massimo Carminati -- were acquitted.

The trial began 3 1/2 years ago. The prosecution had demanded life sentences for Andreotti and the other defendants.

The prosecution alleged the Mafia killed journalist Mino Pecorelli at the behest of Andreotti, who feared the reporter had uncovered embarrassing revelations and was prepared to publish them in a scandal sheet.

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