Mediaset boss loses immunity against prosecution

MADRID — Spain’s Constitutional Court has authorized Baltazar Garzon, a judge at its Audiencia Nacional, to reopen the case against former Italo prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax evasion and false accounting.

Both charges are related to Berlusconi’s ownership of Spanish broadcaster Telecinco from 1990 to 1993, when Berlusconi’s TV company Mediaset held 25% in the TV station.

Although Spanish anti-trust legislation capped company stakes to 25%, Berlusconi has been accused of holding 52% of Telecinco using associates who acted as fronts.

Garzon, the star Spanish magistrate at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional — a court with special powers over terror-ism, drug and financial crimes — is highly likely to proceed with Berlusconi’s prosecution.

The judge battled for years in vain for the European Parliament to lift Berlusconi’s immunity as a member of the European Parliament. With Berlusconi no longer Italy’s prime minister, Spain’s Constitutional Court has now lifted Berlusconi’s immunity against prosecution.

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