Berlusconi faces possible indictment

Italian prosecutors have concluded an investigation into whether Premier Silvio Berlusconi bribed British lawyer David Mills to give false testimony and they intend to seek his indictment on corruption charges, Italian newspapers said today.

Berlusconi has been under investigation in the case in Milan. The premier has denied any wrongdoing, and said the allegations are part of a campaign orchestrated against him by left-leaning magistrates.

Italian dailies Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica said the prosecutors in Milan were looking to indict the premier on corruption charges. Defence lawyers have 20 days to make objections, after which prosecutors can present their request.

The premier is accused of ordering the payment of at least £345,000 (€504,000) to British lawyer David Mills in 1997 to give false testimony in two trials against him.

Mills, married to British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, is also under investigation. He has denied the prosecutors’ allegations.

“I find it amazing that the probe has been wrapped up a few days into the electoral campaign, considering that it’s an investigation that has lasted years,” Niccolo Ghedini, a lawyer for Berlusconi, was quoted as saying by the Apcom news agency.

Berlusconi, who was elected to the premiership in 2001, faces a general election in April.

Ghedini said he would review the prosecutors’ documents and expressed the hope that the case would be shelved, according to Apcom.

The lawyer had previously denied any payment had been made.

Berlusconi, a media tycoon, has a long history of legal woes related to his vast business interests. In other cases, he has either been acquitted or the charges have been dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. He has always maintained his innocence.

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