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Italian PM on trial for tax fraud

03-01-2011 13:29 BJT

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went back on trial on Monday for alleged tax fraud. Since the immunity bill failed to spare him from trial, it's only the first of several court cases the prime minister has to face.

Berlusconi wasn't in court on Monday.

Prosecutors say his Mediaset empire purchased TV rights for US movies. It allegedly was done through two "offshore" companies and falsely declared the costs to reduce the tax bill.

Berlusconi has denied the allegations, though his lawyers didn't claim legitimate impediment.

And the court has refused the lawyers' request to present witnesses.

Judge Edoardo D'avossa, Milan Court President, said, "It's necessary that defence lawyers present a detailed explanation for the defence witnesses they don't want to renounce to."

In spite of the refusal, Berlusconi's lawyer stressed his client would deal with this trial, as he's facing all the others.

Nicolo Ghedini, Lawyer for Berlusconi, said, "We have always faced all the trials, so we are going to face even this one and we have good arguments. But there is a problem: how a defendant, whether he's the Premier or an ordinary citizen, can defend himself if the court prevents him from calling witnesses?"

Berlusconi was in Milan on Monday, attending a meeting at the Italian industrial confederation.

He will probably appear at the next hearing set for April 11th.

The prime minister is also set to go on trial on April 6th, on sex scandal charges involving a 17-year-old girl.



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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