Berlusconi back in court on fraud charges

April 12, 2011 - 0:0

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, has returned to court to defend himself against charges of fraud, the latest in a series of trials over the coming weeks.

The 74-year-old leader, who is also facing three other cases ranging from tax fraud and corruption to sex with an underage prostitute, criticized Italian prosecutors on his way into court on Monday.
“The prosecutors are working against the country,” he said outside the Milan chambers. “I will not be convicted.”
He said magistrates had hurled “an incredible amount of mud” at him and the country, and said separate accusations of a sex scandal were “laughable, unfounded and crazy”.
Berlusconi and his co-defendants are facing charges that his Mediaset broadcasting empire bought TV and film rights at inflated prices through offshore companies, and of creating foreign slush funds to avoid paying taxes in Italy.
The court is expected to hear witnesses called by the 10 co-defendants on Monday. All those on trial deny the charges.
The Italian leader has resisted calls to resign amid the court cases and after losing a key political ally last year.
The Mediaset trial is one of a series of three connected trials, all linked to the sale of television and film rights dating back to the 1990s.
A fourth trial centers on claims that Berlusconi paid for sex with a teenage nightclub dancer nicknamed 'Ruby the Heart-Stealer', when she was under the age of 18 - the legal age to be paid as a prostitute.
Both have denied the charges.
(Source: Agencies)