Berlusconi on trial for corporate fraud

Tuesday 21 November 2006 14.07
Silvio Berlusconi - On trial for corporate fraud
Silvio Berlusconi - On trial for corporate fraud

The former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has gone on trial in Milan.

He is charged with corporate fraud at the broadcast organisation owned by his family, Mediaset, seven months after he was voted out of office.

Prosecutors say a US firm sold TV rights to two offshore companies controlled by Mr Berlusconi, which in turn sold the rights to Mediaset at an inflated price to avoid Italian taxes.

Mr Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing.

He is being tried with 13 other people, including lawyer David Mills, who is the estranged husband of Britain's Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and a tax expert.

In a procedural move, Mr Berlusconi's lawyers asked that Judge Edoardo D'Avossa be replaced as he had presided over three previous cases involving Mediaset.

The trial, which will probably last months if not years, has been adjourned until next Monday.