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Friday, April 27, 2007

Berlusconi acquitted of bribery charges
Lisl Brunner at 2:53 PM ET

[JURIST] An appeals court in Milan upheld a lower court decision Friday clearing former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of charges that he bribed judges to prevent the sale of food company SME to rivals in 1985. After the lower court acquitted [BBC report], then-Prime Minister Berlusconi in 2004, he passed legislation [text, in Italian] precluding an appeal of the verdict. Subsequent decisions [JURIST report] by the Italian Court of Cassation and the Italian Constitutional Court [official websites], however, determined that the case should go forward. Last month, prosecutors appealed the trial court decision [JURIST report] and asked that Berlusconi be sentenced to five years in prison.

Berlusconi has faced trial on at least six occasions involving charges of embezzlement, false accounting, tax fraud, money laundering, and giving false testimony [JURIST reports] connected to his broadcasting company Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian]. While some of the tax fraud charges against Berlusconi have been thrown out [JURIST report], he and former lawyer David Mills currently face trial [JURIST report] on corruption charges. According to his lawyer, Berlusconi is "thrilled" with today's outcome. BBC News has more. Reuters Italia has local coverage, in Italian.






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