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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Italian Court Throws Out Corruption Case Against Berlusconi

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi

MILAN - Silvio Berlusconi's five-year corruption trial came to a favorable end for the former Italian prime minister Saturday, with a Milan court throwing out the charges against him, ANSA reported.

The three-judge panel ruled in favor of the defense, agreeing that the statute of limitations on the charge had expired. Prosecutors had requested that Berlusconi serve a five-year sentence.

Berlusconi, 75, stood accused of bribing his former tax lawyer, David Mills, with $600,000 to provide false testimony during two trials concerning the Italian leader and his Fininvest holding company in the 1990s.

Mills later retracted claims that he received payments from Berlusconi for evidence related to the billionaire media mogul's business dealings.

Berlusconi, who denied any wrongdoing, was absent from the court Saturday when the verdict was delivered.

His lawyer, Peter Longo, later condemned prosecutors for pursuing the case in the courts.

"In a normal country, the Mills trial would never have even begun," he told reporters.

Berlusconi, who was ousted in November last year, also is facing separate charges of tax fraud, sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power.

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