Berlusconi trial hearing postponed due to Italian president vote

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 18, 2013 7:54 AM
Berlusconi trial hearing postponed due to Italian president vote

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian court postponed a ruling on Silvio Berlusconi's bid to move two trials on tax fraud and sexual misconduct charges out of Milan until after the election of a new state president, a court official said on Thursday.

A hearing to consider Berlusconi's request to move the two trials from Milan, where the former prime minister says the courts are biased against him, to the nearby city of Brescia was postponed from Thursday to May 6.

The media magnate's trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor and a separate appeal against a tax fraud conviction connected to his Mediaset broadcasting empire are on hold until the Court of Cassation decides whether to move the trials.

Voting for the new president began on Thursday, and may involve several rounds. As a senator Berlusconi will be taking part in the election and will not be available to be present in court. The president is elected by a joint sitting of Italy's two houses of parliament with some regional delegates.

The choice of a successor to Giorgio Napolitano has become a fraught political issue among the parties wrangling to resolve a stalemate after a deadlocked February election.

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Berlusconi succeeded in delaying verdicts in the two trials until after the February vote in which his center-right alliance came narrowly behind the rival center-left. Support for his group has been steadily rising in polls since the election.

The new president will have the power to try to broker a government or call new elections.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)