Alexa

Italy backs conviction of Berlusconi-linked lawyer

Italy backs conviction of Berlusconi-linked lawyer

An Italian appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of British lawyer David Mills, who was found to have accepted a bribe to lie in court to protect Silvio Berlusconi.
The decision is a potential embarrassment for the Italian premier. Berlusconi's trial in the same corruption case is expected to restart soon following a constitutional court ruling that a law granting him immunity as premier is unconstitutional.
A lower court found Mills guilty of corruption in May and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years. The judges ruled that Mills received $600,000 to give false testimony in two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges relating to the purchase of U.S. film rights.
The verdict said there was no evidence that the money came directly from Berlusconi, but said the "artificial" way in which it was transferred to Mills' account indicated the "illegality of the operation."
Mills' lawyer, Alessio Lanzi, said the verdict upholding the conviction and sentence was a "big disappointment" and said he would appeal to Italy's high court.
Berlusconi's portion of the case was put on hold last year following the passage of a law granting the premier and other top Italian public officials immunity from prosecution while in office.
But earlier this month, Italy's Constitutional Court overturned the law, saying it violated the constitution, paving the way for Berlusconi's trial to resume.
Berlusconi's lawyer says the trial must start from scratch, with a new court, meaning that many witnesses will have to testify again and new ones may be called. The statute of limitations expires in late 2011.
Mills, the estranged husband of Britain's Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, was accused of failing to tell a court that two offshore companies involved in buying U.S. film rights had links to Berlusconi. In another case, Mills was also accused of failing to mention a 1995 phone call in which he and Berlusconi discussed alleged illicit payments from Berlusconi to the late Socialist Premier Bettino Craxi.
The conservative Berlusconi has a history of legal troubles stemming from his business interests. 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 and depicted himself as a victim of left-leaning magistrates.
Before entering politics, Berlusconi founded the Mediaset media empire, which is controlled by his family through Fininvest.


Updated : 2021-04-14 19:35 GMT+08:00