Friday the appeals trial of David Mills, a British lawyer, who has been convicted in a corruption case involving Silvio Berlusconi started in Milan. Defense lawyers say they want the Italian premier to testify.
David Mills was found guilty of corruption in February and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence and sought the appeal.
Berlusconi was originally a co-defendant in the trial. He was charged with ordering a payment of at least $600,000 to Mills in 1997 in exchange for the lawyer's false testimony in other corruption cases.
Mills, the estranged husband of British Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, was found guilty in February of taking a $600,000 bribe to lie under oath for Berlusconi in previous corruption trials. Berlusconi was later acquitted in those cases. Charges against the 73-year-old prime minister for paying off Mills were suspended last year after parliament passed an immunity measure shielding Italy’s four highest officials.
Italy’s high court struck down that measure this week, paving the way for the resumption in coming months of the trial against Berlusconi for allegedly bribing Mills, who denies any wrongdoing. Berlusconi says he’s innocent and that the trial is politically motivated.
The immunity law, sponsored by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano, had protected Italy’s top four officials, including the prime minister, from prosecution while they are in office.