Berlusconi due in court on fraud charge
Updated: 2011-03-28 15:56
MILAN - Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is expected to appear in court for the first time in almost eight years on Monday, in a trial over alleged fraud over the acquisition of television broadcasting rights.
The last time the 74-year old prime minister appeared himself in court was in June 2003.
Prior to the constitutional court ruling in January, the cases had been frozen due to a law which allowed him to claim that he was too busy with his official duties to prepare his defence adequately and stand trial.
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves as he arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels March 25, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
The defendants reject the accusations.
"None of the facts on which the Milan prosecutors have built their case are true," Prime Minister Berlusconi said in a telephone interview on Italian television on Monday, ahead of the hearing which is due to start at 0800 GMT.
When asked if he would attend other hearings as part of a change in his defensive strategy, Berlusconi said "I will go to those at which I can present myself, aiming to not suspend the trials because all the trials are absolutely absurd and built on nothing."
A separate trial in which Berlusconi is accused of bribery reopened in Milan last week but the premier, who was due to brief the cabinet on the Libya emergency, did not appear in court.
Berlusconi has denied doing anything illegal in any of the cases and says he has been unfairly targeted by politically motivated magistrates who want to bring him down.
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