Berlusconi's bid to halt tax fraud trial rejected again

MILAN Fri Feb 1, 2013 11:34am EST

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leaves a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels October 27, 2011. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leaves a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels October 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Related Topics

MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan court on Friday rejected a new request from Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers to suspend a tax fraud trial involving the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset media group until after the February 24-25 election.

The decision prompted a defiant response from the former prime minister and his center-right party, who described as "scandalous" what they see as an interference with the parliamentary race.

"It hurts my heart to see how much money is spent on laughable issues," Berlusconi said at a news conference in Rome referring to the court's work, brandishing a timetable of court hearings he said were designed to stop him campaigning.

The 76-year-old media tycoon, who has served four times as prime minister, is appealing against a previous court ruling in the case which in October sentenced him to four years in jail.

Berlusconi, who has surged in opinion polls but lags the center-left Democratic Party, is also facing a trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and a third for alleged leaking of a confidential phone call to the media.

No verdicts are expected soon, but prosecutors may seek a sentence in these trials days before the vote.

Berlusconi has made an astonishing comeback over the last month through a blitz of radio and television appearances.

He is leading a center-right coalition polling 27.8 percent against a center-left coalition on 32.8 percent.

The tax fraud trial will continue on February 8.

(Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro; Editing by Stephen Powell)


After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.