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Italy court adjourns Berlusconi tax fraud trial until January

[JURIST] An Italian court on Monday reopened the tax fraud trial of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile, in Italian; BBC profile], but immediately adjourned it until January as a result of official business. Berlusconi was unable to attend the hearing as a result of a global food summit in Rome. Counsel for Berlusconi said that he will be unavailable for trial hearings [BBC report] until January 18 because of his responsibilities as prime minister. The charges stem from purchase of broadcasting company Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian]. Berlusconi is also scheduled to go on trial [JURIST report] on corruption charges later this month.

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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