Berlusconi faces trial in bribery case

Rome, Oct 24 (IANS): Prosecutors in Italy's Naples Wednesday sent former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to trial for allegedly bribing a former senator to change political sides, media reported.

The probe involved three million euros allegedly paid to Senator Sergio De Gregorio, who defected from the centre-left during Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 government to join Berlusconi's centre-right party, Xinhua reported citing some media reports.

According to ANSA news agency, the trial will start Feb 11. Valter Lavitola, an associate of Berlusconi, was also indicted for allegedly acting as a go-between.

Berlusconi is also preparing to appeal to Italy's highest court against a two-year ban from holding public offices, which was handed in by a Milan appeals court last week for tax fraud of his television network.

The Senate is expected to vote next weeks on whether to expel the 77-year-old following the guilty verdict on the basis of a 2012 anti-corruption law.

The tax fraud conviction, which was the first final guilty verdict for Berlusconi in 20 years of fighting legal cases, also included a jail term which was reduced from four years to one year by a 2006 pardon.

The three-time premier and media tycoon has filed a request to Milan prosecutors to do one year of social work rather than house arrest to serve the verdict.

He is then appealing other sentences in separate probes on paying a minor for sex and for being involved in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap in Italian courts.

Berlusconi, who has ruled Italy for almost 10 years, has been tried in around 30 cases. But he was never given a definitive conviction as verdicts have always either been overturned on appeal or the statute of limitations ran out.

He has denied any wrongdoing in each case claiming that he was the victim of persecution by a left-wing judiciary.

Berlusconi recently failed in an attempt to bring down Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government when some members of his centre-right party disobeyed him for the first time ahead of a crucial confidence vote in parliament.


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Title: Berlusconi faces trial in bribery case

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