Berlusconi goes on trial for bribery


NAPLES: Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces his latest trial starting on Tuesday in Naples for allegedly bribing a senator to join his party’s ranks, even as he attempts to retain a leading political role.

The billionaire tycoon, who lost his parliamentary immunity when he was ejected from the Senate last year over a tax fraud conviction, is not expected at the hearing and is not obliged to attend under Italian law.

The 77-year-old is accused of giving 3.0 million euros ($4.1 million) in 2006 to Sergio De Gregorio, then a senator from the anti-corruption Italy of Values party, to join his People of Freedom party and help undermine the center-left government in power at the time.

A former Berlusconi aide, Valter Lavitola, is also on trial for being the alleged intermediary for the bribe.

The trial is in Naples as it was the seat occupied by De Gregorio, who is collaborating with investigators.

The two first hearings in the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be largely procedural.

Among the issues on the table will be a request from Senate speaker Pietro Grasso to be considered a plaintiff in the trial—a move that has proved hugely controversial among Berlusconi’s supporters.



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