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Berlusconi and Lawyer Probed in Bribery Case

From Associated Press

Milan prosecutors are investigating allegations that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi bribed a lawyer to give false testimony in court cases against him, lawyers for the men said Thursday.

Berlusconi’s attorney denied the accusations and said they were made public to damage the prime minister ahead of national elections in April.

Prosecutors have accused Berlusconi of ordering the payment of at least $600,000 to British lawyer David Mills in 1997 to persuade him to give false testimony in two of Berlusconi’s trials on bribery and other charges, the newspaper Corriere della Sera reported, citing documents.

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

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Mills’ lawyer, Federico Cecconi, confirmed the report’s accuracy but denied the allegations by phone. He said Berlusconi and Mills were being investigated on charges of corruption and providing false testimony.

Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, denied any payment had been made. He accused Corriere della Sera of publishing details of the investigation to coincide with “delicate moments in the life of the country.”

General elections pitting Berlusconi against former Prime Minister Romano Prodi are set for April 9. Berlusconi has contended that legal troubles surrounding his business empire are the result of a campaign by left-leaning magistrates.


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