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Berlusconi corruption trial to resume December 4

[JURIST] Italian judges announced Friday that the corruption trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile, in Italian; BBC profile] will resume on December 4. The trial had been temporarily halted [Corriere della Sera report, in Italian] after the court ruled against Berlusconi's claim for immunity while he is in office. The trial is set to re-open amid controversy surrounding a bill [Xinhua report] that Berlusconi's supporters have introduced to parliament. The bill would shorten the amount of time prosecutors have to bring some charges to trial, including corruption charges. The bill has not yet been voted on, and parliament would also have to apply it retroactively to apply to Berlusconi's cases.

The corruption charges stem from reported payments from Berlusconi to his former lawyer David Mills [JURIST news archive] in order for Mills to provide false testimony at two trials in 1997 and 1998 involving Berlusconi's broadcasting company, Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian]. Last week, Berlusconi's separate trial for tax fraud was suspended until January [JURIST report]. In October, the Italian Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] struck down [JURIST report] the 2008 law granting immunity from prosecution to the four highest officials of the country, finding it unconstitutional. Berlusconi 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 2007, Berlusconi's April 2007 acquittal [JURIST reports] on bribery charges was upheld. In 2005, Berlusconi was acquitted of corruption charges despite testimony accusing him of giving kickbacks to the late Socialist premier Bettino Craxi [JURIST report].

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