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Berlusconi lawyers won't stop trial

ROME, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Lawyers for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi say they have no plans to try to block a trial on charges one of his media companies committed tax fraud.

A hearing is set for Monday to arrange a schedule that won't interfere with the other trials involving the prime minister and his business interests, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Berlusconi and his media conglomerate face four trials.

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The Constitutional Court ruled last month that Berlusconi's office does not automatically protect him from legal proceedings. The court instead said judges must decide in each case whether there is a "judicial impediment" to proceeding while he remains prime minister.

The other cases involve alleged tax evasion by another Berlusconi company, charges he paid a bribe to a British tax lawyer and allegedly using his position to get police to free an underage exotic dancer.

Berlusconi was in high spirits Friday.

"You know I'm a dictator, don't you?" he said when a reporter for the British broadcaster Sky News asked him if he planned to participate in a debate with opposition leader Pier Luigi Bersani.

Berlusconi would not say whether he would be in the debate. He also joked that center-left politicians hoped to be invited to his "bunga-bunga parties," referring to alleged sexually oriented parties at his villa.

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