Berlusconi tax fraud hearing continues

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2011 10:12 AM
Berlusconi tax fraud hearing continues

Prosecutors on Monday asked judges to charge Premier Silvio Berlusconi with tax fraud in what would be his fourth ongoing trial.

Berlusconi last week attended the closed-door preliminary hearing in the so-called Mediatrade case, but skipped a session Monday to travel to Tunisia in an effort to stop a flood of migrants to Italy.

At least two more dates are scheduled in the Mediatrade case before a judge decides whether to indict the premier and 11 others, including his eldest son, for allegedly overpaying for TV rights in a period that extends to 2008, and pocketing the difference.

The charges being sought are the same as in another ongoing trial where the statute of limitations risk expiring before all the appeals can be heard.

In a more piquant case, the premier's trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and then using his influence to cover it up begins Wednesday.

Berlusconi's lawyers say the premier also will skip the opening session of that trial, which will be devoted to technicalities like setting future trial dates.

Berlusconi denies all wrongdoing and accuses politically motivated judges of trying to oust him.