Prosecutor says Berlusconi should pay damages in Mondadori case: sources

MILAN Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:16pm EDT

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 4, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

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MILAN (Reuters) - Prosecutors have recommended Italy's supreme court back a ruling that orders Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest to pay more than 500 million euros in damages over the acquisition of a publisher twenty years ago, legal sources said on Thursday.

The former prime minister, back in vogue after this year's elections, has already paid out 564 million euros ($733 million) to businessman Carlo De Benedetti's CIR holding in the battle, which relates to the 1991 sale of Mondadori.

But the hearing at the supreme court is Berlusconi's last recourse legally and a judgment in favor of CIR will allow it to use the money, previously frozen in lieu of a final decision in the case.

Under Italian law, the prosecutor represents the interests of the state in such civil cases and could have theoretically recommended the court rule in favor of Fininvest, which was ordered to pay the money by an appeal court in Milan in 2011.

The sources said, however, that the prosecutor had indicated on Thursday that damages could be cut by up to 15 percent.

CIR said in a statement it welcomed the prosecutor's request because it acknowledged its right to damages, while Fininvest said it had acted properly and caused no damage to CIR.

The case relates to a 1991 verdict in which a Rome court effectively enabled Fininvest to acquire a controlling stake in Mondadori from CIR.

A criminal court in 2007 found Berlusconi's former lawyer Cesare Previti guilty of bribing a judge to rule in favor of Fininvest, but Berlusconi himself was cleared of responsibility.

($1 = 0.7691 euros)

(Reporting by Sara Rossi and Danilo Masoni; editing by Patrick Graham)

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