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.


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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