Berlusconi Says He Is "Most Persecuted Man All of History in the Entire World"

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.

An immunity law froze Berlusconi's portion of the trial. But the legislation was overturned this week on grounds that it violated the constitution, paving the way for Berlusconi's trial to resume, The Associated Press reports.
Bloomberg quoted Mills's lawyer Federico Cecconi as saying in an interview, "We renewed the request that we first made during the trial." Mills is seeking "the testimony in court of Silvio Berlusconi, who is accused of a related crime."

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.

Berlusconi today said he's the "most persecuted man all of history in the entire world," citing 106 investigations and trials against him, 2,500 court hearings and more than 200 million euros ($295 million) in consultant and legal fees, Bloomberg reports.
Bloomberg quoted Berlusconi as saying at the news conference, "I have all these lawsuits because I am prime minister."

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.

Berlusconi's remarks coincided with the announcement that U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Italian premier, the oldest of the Group of Eight leaders, had also been put forward as a candidate for the award by a group of supporters who petitioned on his behalf, Bloomberg reports.

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