Rome - A mafia gangster is basing his appeal against a conviction for murdering a fellow mobster on photographs which show his associate was with Portuguese football manager Jose Mourihno at the time.

Cesare Pagano was convicted to life in prison for shooting dead 43-year-old Carmine Amoruso in 2006 in a bingo hall in Mugnano near Naples.

But according to his lawyer, the supergrasses who told investigators he had boasted about the murder at the time with friend Rito Calzone were lying - because Calzone was in Barcelona, with then Chelsea football coach Mourihno.

Pagano won the right to appeal his 2012 conviction based on plane tickets, hotel receipts and photographs showing Calzone posing with Mourihno and Chelsea players in the lobby of a hotel, a source in lawyer Luigi Senese's office told AFP.

Calzone's presence in the hotel at the same time as Mourihno and the Chelsea team was just a coincidence, she said.

In one photograph, Calzone is standing next to Mourihno, who is looking off to the side and giving a distracted thumbs up to the camera. In others, he stands in what looks like a hotel hallway with players Frankie Lampard, Herman Crespo and Nuno Morais.

“According to the informers, Calzone was present following the murder in Naples and he and Pagano boasted that 'a just thing has been done',” the source said.

“But the photographs prove Calzone could not have been there, therefore the informers are lying,” she added.

The receptionist who booked Calzone into the hotel has given testimony at the appeal, which is expected to reach a verdict in May.

Calzone had not told the court about being in Barcelona at the original trial because he had not been aware that it could exonerate Pagano.

“He was just there to see the match when he came across Mourihno. It turned out to be a very fortunate encounter,” she said.