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Milan prosecutors call for corruption indictment of Italian PM Berlusconi

[JURIST] Prosecutors in Milan announced Friday that after an investigation [JURIST report] they have formally asked a judge to issue an indictment against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile; BBC profile] and his former lawyer, British barrister David Mills, for corruption in connection with false testimony that Mills allegedly gave at two trials in 1997 and 1998 involving Berlusconi broadcasting company Mediaset [corporate website]. Italian media claim that in return for the testimony, Berlusconi funneled some $600,000 to Mills. Under Italian law the prosecutor's request now goes to a judge who has 20 days to consider it, during which time defense lawyers can file objections. Berlusconi has already dismissed the case against him [JURIST report] as "baseless", but its timing is problematic because Berlusconi is deep into a re-election campaign with a national vote scheduled for April 9. BBC News has more.

This would not be the first indictment against Berlusconi; in September 2005 he was cleared of false accounting charges [JURIST report] and in June 2005 he was acquitted on bribery charges [JURIST report].

The case has also drawn wide attention in the United Kingdom [Telegraph report], in large part because David Mills is the husband of British Culture Minister Tessa Jowell [official profile]. A UK government inquiry has already cleared Jowell of any wrongdoing in the corruption scandal [Telegraph report; Blair statement], but she and her husband have since separated. Mills has denied the allegations against him [Mills statement].

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