Berlusconi will not take the stand

Prime Minister will sit out David Mills trial

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italo prime minister and controller of the Mediaset TV empire, will not be called to testify in the corruption trial facing his former associate, the British lawyer David Mills, a court ruled on Friday.

Mills is accused of taking a $600,000 bribe from the media mogul-turned pol in the late 1990s to lie in court about Mediaset slush funds.

In July, Berlusconi introduced a handy immunity law that puts him beyond the reach of the courts. But Mills, the estranged husband of British minister Tessa Jowell, is still on trial in Milan.

And on Friday, a judge rejected Mills’ request for Berlusconi to give evidence on his behalf from the witness box.

The prime minister’s lawyers had indicated he was willing to do so. Not surprising, say Italo political pundits: If Mills is found guilty, in effect Berlusconi will be, too. His liberty might not be at risk, but his reputation is.

Both men deny any wrongdoing.

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