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Flowers and candles are pictured at the site where on December 19, 2016 a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near Kurfuerstendamm avenue in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch(reuters_tickers)
ROME (Reuters) - Italy has expelled a Tunisian citizen suspected of having been in contact with the man who killed 12 people by driving a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin last year, the interior ministry said on Saturday.
The 36 year-old had been living on the southern island of Sicily, where Berlin attacker Anis Amri spent time in jail and a deportation centre, the ministry said in a statement.
He gave Amri a telephone and the two stayed in contact after the latter moved to Germany. Amri returned to Italy after the Dec. 19 attack, and was shot dead by Milan police.
Investigators tapped the telephone of the other Tunisian and discovered he had been in contact with extremist suspects and was planning to cross illegally to France, the ministry said.
They tracked him down in the northern city of Turin on May 2 and held him in a repatriation centre before accompanying him on a flight to Tunisia.
The ministry said Italy had now expelled 174 people suspected of religious extremism since January 2015.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Mark Potter)