December 4, 2009 / 12:28 AM / in 9 years

FACTBOX: Silvio Berlusconi's legal headaches

(Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to go back on trial in Milan on Friday for corruption, after being stripped of his immunity from prosecution.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi touches his head during a meeting with Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the Chigi Palace in Rome, November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

In a separate trial in Turin, a mobster-turned-informant is due to testify in an appeal against Mafia charges by a close associate of Berlusconi. The informant has linked them both to a Mafia bombing campaign in 1993.

Following are details of some legal proceedings against the 73-year-old conservative prime minister and media mogul:

THE MILLS CASE

Berlusconi is charged with paying British lawyer David Mills a $600,000 bribe in 1997 from secret funds held by his family-owned broadcasting empire Mediaset to withhold incriminating details of business dealings.

Mills has been convicted of taking the bribe and sentenced to 4-1/2 years in jail, pending an appeal.

The case against Berlusconi was suspended while he enjoyed immunity from prosecution as prime minister, thanks to a law he introduced after winning the 2008 election. But this was ruled unconstitutional in October, allowing cases to resume.

THE MEDIASET CASE

Another case involves the acquisition of TV rights by Mediaset, which prosecutors say bought the rights at an inflated price from two offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi. Berlusconi is accused of tax fraud and false accounting.

That trial was scheduled to resume on November 16 but his lawyers argued that his official duties constituted “legitimate impediment” to him attending the trial and said the earliest date he could attend was in January.

They made the same argument against him attending the Mills case on Friday.

THE FININVEST CASE

In October a court ordered Berlusconi’s Fininvest holding company to pay 750 million euros ($1.09 billion) in damages to CIR, which is owned by Berlusconi’s business rival Carlo De Benedetti.

The judge ordered Fininvest to compensate CIR for bribing a judge in a 1990s takeover battle for publisher Mondadori. An appeals court suspended the compensation ruling and said a definitive decision would be made in December.

THE MAFIA INFORMANT

The appeal by Marcello Dell ‘Utri, a senator in Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, against conviction of association with the Mafia has turned up new evidence — rejected by Berlusconi as “unfounded” — from jailed mobster Gaspare Spatuzza linking Berlusconi and Dell’Utri to a 1993 Mafia bombing campaign.

Berlusconi has threatened to sue newspapers that reported that he was under investigation — which has been denied by one of the courts that reopened the probe into the bombings — and a newspaper that reported that the Sicilian Mafia had a 20 percent stake in his business.

The prime minister is not formally linked to this case and a prosecutor in Florence, which was hit by one of the 1993 bombs, has said he is not under investigation.

COURT “PERSECUTION”

Berlusconi has repeatedly accused Italian prosecutors of “persecuting” him because of political bias and he also leveled this accusation at the Constitutional Court when it removed his immunity from prosecution in October.

The prime minister complains that he has faced 109 trials and 200 million euros ($300 million) in legal fees since he first entered politics 15 years ago.

His lawyers and political supporters are trying to get back some form of immunity from prosecution for the prime minister, using various tactics such as legal reforms to impose time limits on trials in the notoriously slow court system, and the possibility of a constitutional reform requiring a referendum. (Reporting and writing by Stephen Brown and Philip Pullella; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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