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Berlusconi charged with corruption

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  • Berlusconi charged with corruption

    An Italian judge has ordered that Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, stand trial on corruption charges along with British lawyer David Mills.

    Milan magistrates had accused Berlusconi of paying Mills, the estranged husband of Tessa Jowell, the British culture secretary, a $600,000 kickback for not revealing details of Berlusconi's media empire when he testified in two court cases.

    Berlusconi's lawyer confirmed that judge Fabio Paparella had ordered both Berlusconi and Mills to stand trial after preliminary hearings that started earlier this year. With the judge's order the two men were officially charged with corruption.

    "They have been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges," lawyer Nicolo Ghedini said on Monday.

    Both Berlusconi, who has faced a string of court cases, and Mills have denied the public prosecutor's allegations that Berlusconi paid the British lawyer the kickback in 1997.

    The alleged crime carries a possible jail sentence of three to eight years. Italy's statute of limitations - reduced under Berlusconi's government before the centre right lost elections in April - means he is unlikely to be prosecuted on this count if the case stretches to 2008.

    Mediaset, the publishing and broadcasting empire owned by the former prime minister's family, had no immediate comment. Lawyers for Mills were not immediately available.

    Berlusconi and Mills are already standing trial with 12 others in a related case over allegations of fraud at Mediaset.

    Prosecutors in that case suspect a US firm sold television and cinema rights to two offshore firms controlled by Berlusconi family holding company Fininvest, which then allegedly sold them at inflated prices to Mediaset, avoiding Italian taxes.

    Berlusconi has faced several legal cases since he entered politics in 1994.

    He has been fully acquitted in two, and in the others Italy's statute of limitations has kicked in.

    Berlusconi charged with corruption

  • #2
    Amid speculation about his political future, Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, went on trial yesterday with David Mills, the estranged husband of the [British] culture secretary, Tessa Jowell.

    An article published by a newspaper close to the Italian right quoted Mr Berlusconi as saying he would never again return to government. "I've done my bit. That's enough for me," he was said to have told friends. However, the billionaire politician's spokesman later quoted him as saying he had "no scheme for quitting".

    The confusion overshadowed the fact that Mr Berlusconi is again in court for alleged financial irregularities. In the trial that began - and was swiftly adjourned - yesterday, he is charged with embezzlement, tax dodging and false accounting.

    Mr Mills who, like Mr Berlusconi, was not in court, is accused of helping him to dodge taxes and illegally set aside cash for his family. Another 12 people are on trial over the alleged illegal trading of TV film rights. All deny wrongdoing.

    Yesterday's proceedings were adjourned until Monday because of objections from defence lawyers. In a petition to the court, they argued that the presiding judge, Edoardo d'Avossa, should not hear the case because he had ruled in an earlier trial involving a film production company that forms part of Mr Berlusconi's business empire. Judge D'Avossa referred the question to an appeal court.

    The trial is one of two in which Mr Mills is a defendant alongside Italy's richest man. In the other, due to begin next year, the British lawyer is accused of taking a £340,000 bribe from Mr Berlusconi.

    The political future of the man who is now Italy's opposition leader is a subject of growing conjecture. If the centre-left government of Romano Prodi were to serve out its five-year term, Mr Berlusconi would be 74 when he next ran for prime minister. His chances of returning to government depend on putting a swift end to the Prodi government, which has a notional majority of one seat in the senate, the upper house of parliament. However, the government can rely on a majority of Italy's life senators, while some of Mr Berlusconi's allies have been reluctant to fight the government in parliament.

    This is particularly the case with the Union of Christian Democrats, whose leader, Pier Ferdinando Casini, is Mr Berlusconi's most likely successor. Having clung to power for more than six months, the centre-left is set to burnish its credentials in the next few weeks by negotiating the passage of a budget for 2007.

    Doubts over Berlusconi's political future as fraud trial opens


    • #3
      Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is in hospital after fainting as he delivered a speech.

      Mr Berlusconi fell to the floor with his eyes closed as he was delivering the closing address at a gathering of young centre-right followers in Montecatini Terme in Tuscany.

      He was taken off stage by aides to be assisted by his personal doctor and then taken home.

      Later Mr Berlusconi told reporters outside his villa that he was going to Milan's San Raffaele Hospital where he would stay the night.

      "They found something on the electrocardiogram, something like an irregular heartbeat, so they want to keep me under observation for 24 hours," Mr Berlusconi, who overcame prostate cancer in the 1990s, said.

      He thanked the small crowd chanting "Silvio, Silvio" before getting into a helicopter to go to the hospital.

      Mr Berlusconi - Italy's richest man - went on trial last week charged with fraud at broadcaster Mediaset, which his family controls. It is the latest in a series of legal battles which have dogged him since he entered politics in 1994.

      He denies all wrong doing.

      Mr Berlusconi said his collapse in the afternoon had been due to tiredness, antibiotics he was taking after a knee operation and the heat at the venue.

      His doctor, Umberto Scarpagnini, said immediately after the event that Mr Berlusconi had lost consciousness "for a few seconds due to great fatigue and the extreme heat".

      Prime Minister Romano Prodi said he was "particularly disturbed and worried to hear about what happened" at Sunday's rally.

      "I am sure it's a small problem and I wish you a rapid recovery," Mr Prodi said.

      Berlusconi in hospital after collapse


      • #4
        Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post
        Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is in hospital after fainting as he delivered a speech.

        Mr Berlusconi fell to the floor with his eyes closed as he was delivering the closing address at a gathering of young centre-right followers in Montecatini Terme in Tuscany.

        Berlusconi in hospital after collapse
        That`s not true he did not fell into the floor, he was already helped by his doctor, when he want in black out ......

        A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
        By: George Bernard Shaw


        • #5
          More troubles:

          · Propositioning of women starts public row in media

          · Former PM begs for mercy after 'thoughtless quips'

          Silvio Berlusconi is not a man who gives in easily. He has yet to concede that he lost the last Italian general election - and that was 10 months ago. So his wife, Veronica Lario, knew it was going to take an extraordinary manoeuvre to drag words of contrition out of him after he was overheard propositioning a couple of showgirls at a gala dinner.

          Following a TV award ceremony hosted by his Mediaset group on Friday, Mr Berlusconi was chatting to the Venezuelan-born dancer Aida Yespica, a former Miss Amazonia. "I'd go with you anywhere," he was reported to have told her.

          The former prime minister's roving eye then settled on Mara Carfagna, a one-time winner of the Miss Smiles and Songs title, who has since appeared in numerous variety shows on Mr Berlusconi's TV channels and entered parliament at the last election as an MP for his Forza Italia! party. She is now a member of the Italian parliament's constitutional affairs committee.

          Standing beside her, the billionaire politician declared to guests: "Take a look at her! I'd marry her if I weren't married already." Unfortunately for Mr Berlusconi, his declarations made their way on to the front page of a national newspaper.

          Pain and indignation

          But even then, Ms Lario was unable to coax an apology out of her husband of 17 years. So she took the nuclear option: she went public with her pain and indignation in a letter of her own, again splashed across the front of a newspaper. In a tone of acid restraint that suggested she had learned a thing or two from her husband on how to handle the media, the former actress and mother of three of Mr Berlusconi's five children said his remarks were "unacceptable" and "damaging to my dignity".

          She explained that she had failed to convince her husband in private to recognise that his behaviour had been beyond the pale. "I am therefore asking for a public apology," she added.

          Her extraordinary initiative prompted speculation that Mr Berlusconi's marriage was doomed. It also shone a painfully bright spotlight on the 70-year-old opposition leader's attempts to convince Italy's voters that he is still young enough to be prime minister again. Having had a face lift and a hair transplant, Mr Berlusconi has increasingly tried to give the impression of a man in his prime.

          Ms Lario said her husband's comments could not be dismissed as jokey remarks. Hinting at how deeply they had hurt her, she said she felt like a woman in one of the novels of the Irish writer, Catherine Dunne. "I ask if, like the Catherine Dunne character, I have to regard myself as 'half of nothing'," she wrote.

          Piling insult on injury, the vehicle she chose to deliver her public admonishment was a centre-left newspaper that had long been fiercely critical of her husband.

          Thoughtless quip

          Last night, her tactics produced the desired response. Mr Berlusconi proffered his wife an excruciatingly public act of contrition. "Excuse me, I beg you", he wrote in a letter to her, again released to the media. He lauded his partner as "the splendid person you are and have always been for me since the day we met and fell in love". He entreated her to overlook the odd "thoughtless quip" - the result of a life of "constant pressure".

          Rumours that Mr Berlusconi's marriage is in trouble have been circulating for years. In 2002, he appeared to suggest his wife was having an affair with the philosopher and mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari. At a joint press conference, he flabbergasted the visiting Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, by saying: "I think I'll introduce him to my wife , he's much better looking than Cacciari."

          Mr Cacciari was among the first to comment on Ms Lario's letter. He said: "When you get to talking to one another through the press and public letters, it's clear that a relationship is finished."

          A minister in Italy's centre-left government, Giovanna Melandri, said the episode had exposed the "total inconsistency" between Mr Berlusconi's personal behaviour and his frequent exaltation of family values.

          Ms Lario had never before showed exasperation with her husband's macho swaggering. But it has long been characteristic of his personality. A book published by three Italian journalists in 1994, when he first entered politics, described an incident following a dinner hosted by Mr Berlusconi to celebrate a famous victory by his football team, AC Milan. Bidding farewell to his guests at his villa, he was heard to slap his wife on the bottom, telling her: "Now you'll see how the champion of the world ****s."

          Berlusconi on women

          At a congress of an allied party: "I notice some extraordinarily pretty legs around here."

          Addressing Germany's then chancellor, Gerhard Schröder: "Let's talk about women and football. You, for example, Gerhard. You've had four wives. What can you tell us about women?"

          On France: "I love France and continue to love it. You only need to count up the girlfriends I've had there."

          At a business conference: "Competitiveness is what you need to have with the girls."

          Commenting on his government's opposition to moves to earmark a fixed proportion of seats in parliament for women: "We very much like [having] women in parliament - especially beautiful ones."


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