Italy's Berlusconi tax fraud trial adjourned to April 20

Reuters News

3/23/2013 10:09:58 AM - Reuters News

MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian court agreed on Saturday to Silvio Berlusconi's request to adjourn his appeal against a tax fraud conviction for one month, as Italy's politicians seek to end a political crisis and form a government.

The former prime minister was re-elected to parliament in an inconclusive vote last month and Italy's president has asked his center-left rival, Pier Luigi Bersani, to see if he can form a government.

Judge Alessandra Galli adjourned to April 20 the trial in which Berlusconi is appealing a four-year jail sentence for tax fraud connected to the sale of broadcasting rights for his Mediaset group.

As leader of the second-biggest formation in the deadlocked parliament, Berlusconi is potentially a key figure in resolving the political impasse, but he is contesting several legal cases as he fights for his political life.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party is holding a demonstration in Rome later on Saturday to protest against what he calls "judicial persecution" by politically motivated magistrates.

Berlusconi's request to have the tax fraud appeal moved from Milan to what he considers a more neutral courthouse in the nearby city of Brescia will be discussed on April 20, the judge said.

(Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro; Writing by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Steve Scherer and Robin Pomeroy)