Berlusconi Bribery Case Thrown Out
A bribery case against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been thrown out of an Italian court because it expired under the statute of limitations, BBC reports.
Berlusconi was accused of “paying his former British tax lawyer, David Mills, to lie in court to protect his interests,” allegedly giving Mills $600,000 as a bribe. He denied the allegation, saying that this case was simply a part of a “politically-motivated smear campaign,” according to the BBC. Mills also denied the accusation of bribery, claiming that he had falsely stated that Berlusconi had given him the money. The New York Times reports:
“The case involved a British lawyer, David Mills, who was found guilty of receiving money and was convicted in a separate trial in 2009, though that case, too, was thrown out in 2010 because the statute of limitations had run out. At a hearing in December, Mr. Mills said that his story that Mr. Berlusconi had paid him $600,000 was a fabrication because he wanted to avoid paying taxes on a fee from another client.
“Prosecutors had claimed that Mr. Mills took the money in exchange for providing false testimony in trials in 1997 and 1998 relating to offshore companies that Mr. Mills had helped set up for Fininvest, Mr. Berlusconi’s holding company.”
According to CNN, even though the decision of the court to throw out the case means that Berlusconi is spared prison time, “the ruling is not the same as an acquittal. A written report on the case will be published within 90 days.” The Huffington Post writes:
“The charge of using his influence to cover up a crime could bring an additional penalty that would bar Berlusconi from again seeking public office, but that would only occur if a guilty verdict is confirmed on the final appeal.”
Berlusconi claimed Friday that the bribery trial was “only one of many trials that have been invented against me.”
Meanwhile, Berlusconi is still involved in three other court cases, charged with tax fraud and sex with an underage prostitute.