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Italy high court upholds ruling clearing Berlusconi

The Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], the country's highest appeals court, on Friday upheld a ruling clearing former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of fraud and embezzlement charges relating to his commercial broadcast company, Mediaset. Prosecutors in Milan had appealed after a judge ruled in October that there was not enough evidence to indict Berlusconi. That judge did order Berlusconi's son Pier Silvio and Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri to stand trial in the same case, which is ongoing in Milan.

Berlusconi, who resigned as prime minister in November, has been a defendant in nearly 50 cases. In February prosecutors asked a court to try him on tax evasion charges [JURIST report]. He is also facing charges of publicly releasing private wiretaps, embezzlement and paying for sex with an underage prostitute [JURIST reports]. In January 2011 the Italian Constitutional Court held hearings and subsequently struck down [JURIST reports] portions of a immunity law backed by Berlusconi that would have granted the premier and other public officials temporary amnesty from any charges while holding office.

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