Italian PM attends court for graft hearing
Milan: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in court in Milan on Monday for a hearing into claims he paid a former lawyer EUR 416,000 (USD 600,000) for false testimony about his business dealings.
The embattled Berlusconi, who faces a string of other legal challenges, is alleged to have paid the money to his former British lawyer David Mills for false testimony in a case dating back to the 1990s.
The Milan court, resuming proceedings suspended in July, was expected on Monday to hear video testimony from Swiss fund manager Maria De Fusco, who is alleged to have transmitted the payment to Mills.
A seemingly untroubled Berlusconi arrived at court smiling to journalists and saying: "Me, I`m fine, it is you who look a bit rough."
Mills, a specialist in offshore tax havens, was convicted by a Milan court in 2009 and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail, but an appeals court threw out the corruption case in 2010 as the time limit had expired.
The presiding judge found at the time that Mills had accepted a bribe from the billionaire Prime Minister in November 1999, but that the trial exceeded the 10-year limit for prosecution set by Italian law.
It sentenced Mills to pay EUR 250,000 to the Italian government for damage to its image.
A separate trial for tax evasion linked to the Italian media mogul`s Mediaset empire is set to pick up again on September 26.
But all eyes will be on the trial for allegedly buying sex from a girl known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer" when she was a minor and abusing his power to spring her from police custody when she was arrested on suspicion of theft.
The next hearing in that case is set for October 03.
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