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Europe

Berlusconi misses corruption trial hearing, says he can only do Mondays

Judges have postponed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s hearings in a corruption trial. Critics accuse the prime minister of trying to obstruct the judicial process in order to evade a possible conviction.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi's trials are causing a scheduling problem

Hearings in the corruption trial against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi were postponed by a court in Milan on Friday in an attempt to accommodate the controversial politician's schedule.

Berlusconi was unable to attend the hearing due to a special EU summit in Brussels on the crisis in Libya. The hearing has been postponed until March 21.

The Italian prime minister had said he wants to defend himself in person, but can only show up in court on Mondays.

“I will dedicate Sundays to preparing and Mondays to appearing in courtrooms, where I think I will get great satisfaction and above all I will explain to Italians how things really started,” Berlusconi told reporters on Thursday.

Berlusconi is accused of bribing British lawyer David Mills with $600,000 to give false testimony during two trials in the mid 1990s. Mills was convicted, but later had his four-and-a-half-year prison sentence overturned on appeal.

Milan judges

Judges are waiting to hear from Berlusconi on charges of tax fraud, corruption and paying for under-age sex

Drawn-out process

The trial was suspended last year when Berlusconi's conservative allies introduced a law in parliament that allowed the prime minister to miss court appearances if the responsibilities of his office required it.

But the Italian constitutional court partially overturned the law last January, allowing the proceedings to resume.

Berlusconi is currently facing two other trials, one involving paying for sex with the then 17-year-old Moroccan dancer Karima El Mahroug.

The Italian prime minister says the trials are a politically motivated campaign launched by leftist magistrates. Berlusconi announced a series of judicial reforms on Thursday which his critics say are designed to help him avoid conviction.

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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