Tycoon launches new party

TV tycoon-turned-politician Silvio Berlusconi’s legal woes continue. A Milan prosecutor brought a new charge of false accounting Monday in an ongoing case involving the alleged purchase of Hollywood movie rights.

Prosecutors had alleged that in the early 1990s, U.S. TV rights were sold to two offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi, which in turn sold the rights to his Mediaset group at an inflated price to avoid Italian taxes and to create a secret slush fund.

Two other charges in the case against Berlusconi were dropped as the statute of limitations had expired. That would have ended the trial for Berlusconi, but prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale asked for the new charge to be pressed, keeping the case open until 2012.

Judges must decide whether to consider this new charge at the next hearing today.

Berlusconi has been tried eight times in Italy and always been cleared either on appeal or because the statute of limitations had expired. He has always maintained his innocence, claiming he is a victim of leftist prosecutors.

Meanwhile, the 71-year-old is launching his own political party in a largely cosmetic attempt by the former prime minister to stage a political comeback.

Berlusconi told a Milan rally on Monday that he hadn’t set a name for the new party but may call it the People’s Party of Freedom.

Thirteen years ago, he became leader of Forza Italia! (Let’s Go, Italy!) — a name echoing the cheer of Italians when the national team scores.

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