[JURIST] An Italian court Monday dismissed false accounting charges [JURIST report] against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], ruling that the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors alleged that Berlusconi's broadcasting company, Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian], incorrectly reported its costs in purchasing television rights to US films in a ploy to avoid paying higher taxes in 2000. Berlusconi still faces a charge of tax fraud, and his trial is scheduled to resume in January.
Berlusconi, a media mogul and Italy's richest man, has faced trial on at least six occasions involving charges of false accounting, tax fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, and giving false testimony [JURIST reports]. In October, Italy's highest court of appeal upheld Berlusconi's April acquittal [JURIST reports] on bribery charges. That trial was initially blocked in 2004 by a bill drafted by Berlusconi ally and later defense lawyer Gaetano Pecorella but went ahead after the bill was struck down as unconstitutional. Berlusconi has continually maintained his innocence, accusing prosecutors of conducting a political vendetta against him. AP has more.