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Appeals Court Clears 2 Italian Ex-Premiers

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Associated Press

An appeals court cleared former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday of illegally financing a political party, citing the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Berlusconi, leader of Italy’s conservative opposition, had been sentenced by a lower court last year to two years and four months in prison.

Another ex-premier, Socialist Bettino Craxi, was also cleared Tuesday of the same charges. Prosecutors had sought a four-year prison term for Craxi.

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Prosecutors had alleged that Berlusconi and his associates funneled $6.6 million in illegal contributions to Craxi through a holding company called All Iberian.

The appeals court overturned the convictions because of the expiration of the 7 1/2-year statute of limitations on the alleged 1991 crime.

Berlusconi was acquitted of fraud last year. He is appealing another conviction for bribery.

The media magnate has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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