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Berlusconi cleared on fraud charges

Billionaire still faces court action for alleged corruption, bribery, financial irregularities

MILAN — Italy’s highest court Monday acquitted prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi of false-bookkeeping charges during the acquisition of film company Medusa in 1987.

The verdict, the final one in the case, clears the media billionaire of a 16-month prison sentence, which a court handed out in 1997. He still faces court action for alleged corruption, bribery and financial irregularities.

Berlusconi’s government proposed a bill last week to partially decriminalize false bookkeeping.

But his real headache these days is more political than judicial. Berlusconi was due to meet top Muslim diplomats in Italy todayto make amends for asserting that Western civilization is superior to Islamic civilization.

Berlusconi made the comments last week in Berlin after meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi outraged the Muslim world and stunned Italy’s Western allies. He later claimed his remarks had been misunderstood.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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