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Italian court ends Berlusconi's bribery trial over statute of limitations

Rome, Sun, 26 Feb 2012 ANI

Rome, Feb 26 (ANI): Italian judges have ended former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's trial on charges of corruption, saying the statute of limitations had run out and a verdict could not be reached.


Berlusconi was accused of having paid off his former British tax lawyer David Mills to provide false testimony to protect the billionaire's business interests during two trials in the 1990s.


Prosecutors had requested a five-year prison term for Berlusconi on bribery charges.


But Judge Francesca Vitale said that she ruled the case had run out of time allowed by law, The Telegraph reports.


Berlusconi's, 75, who has always protested his innocence, was not in court.


He had left Rome for Milan on Saturday morning, but had come not to court but to watch his football team AC Milan play Juventus.


According to the report, the case had turned into a race against time for prosecutors, who were determined to secure a conviction before the case timed out under Italy's statute of limitations.


The usual maximum time for a case to be concluded is ten years, but the clock was stopped while Berlusconi was prime minister as for most of that time his office conferred legal immunity.


Prosecutors had alleged that Berlusconi paid Mills, the estranged husband of ex-Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, 600,000 dollars for his court evidence.


Berlusconi had denied the charge and claimed throughout the trial that he was the victim of vendetta by a politically-motivated judiciary.


He had dismissed the entire trial as "a fairy tale" and a waste of time. (ANI)


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