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Italy prosecutors accuse Berlusconi of bribing senator

Italian prosecutors on Thursday called for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to face another trial on charges of bribing a senator. The prosecutors accuse [AKI report] Berlusconi of having paid former senator Sergio De Gregorio €3 million following the parliamentary election in 2006 to defect from the small Italy of Values [party website, in Italian] party and join the center right. De Gregorio's defection undermined ex-prime minister Romano Prodi's government's slight parliamentary majority, contributing to its collapse in 2008. Prosecutors want De Gregorio, who has admitted to taking money, to stand trial alongside Berlusconi.

Berlusconi is a defendant in several other cases. The prosecutors' request came just one day after a Milan appeals court upheld a tax fraud conviction against Berlusconi, affirming his four-year sentence [JURIST reports]. Berlusconi may still appeal to Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], as his sentence will not take effect until all appeals are exhausted. In March a Milan court sentenced him to one year in prison [JURIST report] for publicly releasing private wiretaps in 2005. Berlusconi is also charged [JURIST report] with paying then 17-year-old dancer Karima "Ruby" El Mahroug for sex and abusing his power by asking police to release her after she was detained for an unrelated theft crime. The next hearing in that case is set for next week. Experts agree that Berlusconi, who continually denies any wrongdoing, is unlikely to serve any jail time [AFP report].

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