Berlusconi and British lawyer Mills face new trial on corruption charges

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi faced a new trial Tuesday on charges of corruption along with the estranged husband of Britain's culture minister.

The trial one in a series against Berlusconi for his business dealings in Milan alleges that Berlusconi in 1997 ordered the payment of at least US$600,000 to his co-defendant, British lawyer David Mills, in exchange for the lawyer's false testimony in two trials against Berlusconi in the 1990s.

Both deny the allegations. Neither man was expected to appear in court. If convicted, Mills and Berlusconi could be sentenced to between three and eight years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Mills is married to British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. They formally separated last year.

Berlusconi and Mills also are defendants in a separate case charging a dozen defendants with false accounting, embezzlement and tax fraud in the purchase by Berlusconi's Mediaset empire of TV rights for U.S. movies. Most of the counts have been dismissed due to statute of limitations expiring, reports AP.

Berlusconi, Italy's richest man with a fortune that Forbes magazine put at US$11.8 billion (EUR8.97 billion), has a long history of legal troubles linked to his business interests based in Milan. In past cases, he was either acquitted or cleared of the charges because the statute of limitations had expired. He has always maintained his innocence.

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