Italy prosecutors seek 5-year term for Berlusconi

MILAN Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:56am EST

Former Italian Prime Minister and Popolo della Liberta (PDL) party President Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Marseille, December 8, 2011. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson

Former Italian Prime Minister and Popolo della Liberta (PDL) party President Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Marseille, December 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Laurenson

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors on Wednesday asked a court to sentence former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in prison on charges of paying British lawyer David Mills a $600,000 bribe to lie about Berlusconi's business interests.

Mills, husband of former British cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, has had a 4-1/2-year jail sentence for taking the bribe dropped as a statute of limitations took effect.

Should Berlusconi be found guilty, the verdict would be little more than symbolic as his lawyers would appeal and the case would have to be dropped because the alleged crime dates back to 1997 - and would also fall under a statute of limitations.

Berlusconi, 75, is also trial on charges of tax fraud and of

paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and is due to go on trial on March 15 on charges of revealing confidential information in a case related to a 2005 banking scandal.

(Reporting By Sara Rossi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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