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Spanish court considers reopening Berlusconi corruption probe

[JURIST] A Spanish judge asked the Spanish Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday to reopen an investigation into corruption charges against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile] stemming from Berlusconi's holdings in Spanish television channel Telecinco [corporate website, in Spanish], which Spanish prosecutors believe exceeded the 25 percent television channel ownership cap imposed by Spanish law. Prosecutors halted the proceedings, which began in the early 1990s, when Berlusconi became Italian prime minister and therefore gained immunity from prosecution. Berlusconi, who lost a parliamentary election against Romano Prodi in April, lost his right to immunity early in May when he officially resigned [JURIST report].

Spanish prosecutors allege that Berlusconi used offshore companies to garner more than 50 percent of Telecinco holdings, while committing tax fraud and breaching anit-trust laws. Berlusconi's eight business partners will begin a trial Monday on charges of tax and document fraud relating to their involvement with Berlusconi's business empire. In addition, Berlusconi is likely to face new corruption charges in Italy [JURIST report], where prosecutors accuse Berlusconi of bribing a former legal advisor to withold evidence relating to other corruption charges in the 1990s [BBC Q/A], including setting up offshore accounts for his holding company Fininvest [BBC report]. The Guardian has more.

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