Berlusconi trial suspended until after Italy's elections

Other News Materials 25 February 2008 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A Milan court suspended Monday a slush-fund trial involving former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi until after Italy's scheduled April 13-14 elections, news reports said.

According to the ANSA news agency, the ruling followed a request by Berlusconi's lawyers that court proceedings be "frozen" while their client was campaigning for the elections - a contest he is likely to win, opinion polls suggest.

The trial, stemming from charges that Berlusconi's Mediaset company operated slush-funds for purchasing film rights, would resume on April 21, the court ruled.

Mediaset, which owns Italy's three largest private television channels, denies any wrongdoing in the case.

The 71-year-old Berlusconi, who is attempting to become prime minister - a position he has held in 1994-1995 and 2001-2006 - for a third time, has been the subject of several legal proceedings over the years.

Most of the charges were dropped when laws de-penalizing the crimes he had been accused of were introduced during his two stints in government or in other cases, when the statute of limitations expired.