Berlusconi denounces lawyers in 'corruption' inquiry

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi today denounced prosecutors who intend to seek his indictment on corruption charges as elections approach, saying the accusations against him were groundless.

On Friday, Milan Prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale said his office had completed a probe into whether the media mogul bribed a British lawyer to give false testimony.

“It’s something without proof, completely baseless, which however has become a media and political fact,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Berlusconi as saying at a campaign rally in Verona, northern Italy.

The conservative premier has repeatedly denounced Milan prosecutors as waging a political vendetta against him in their years of probes and prosecution of him. He claims they sympathise with the left.

De Pasquale said the prosecution had rushed to complete the probe and to try to bring the case to trial after Parliament passed a reform, backed by Berlusconi’s government, which reduced the statute of limitations on the charges.

The premier is accused of ordering the payment of at least 600,000dollars (£345,000) to British lawyer David Mills in 1997 to give false testimony in two trials against him.

Mills, who is married to British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, is also under investigation.

Both Berlusconi and Mills have denied the allegations.

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