Decision weakens position of Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi’s legal woes were exacerbated Tuesday when a Milan appeals court upheld the conviction of British lawyer David Mills, found guilty of taking a $600,000 bribe to lie in court to protect the Italian prime minister and media mogul.

The case has important implications for Berlusconi, who recently lost the immunity shielding him from prosecution in two related trials, both centered on his Mediaset TV empire for which Mills acted as a tax consultant in the 1990s.

Berlusconi had secured judicial immunity by pushing a bill through parliament, but that bill was ruled unconstitutional earlier this month.

The first of Berlusconi’s two trials will restart on Nov. 16, according to court documents.

The trials pertain to an alleged tax evasion scheme involving volume deals for TV rights to U.S. movies with Hollywood studios. Both Mills and Berlusconi deny wrongdoing.

Berlusconi has said he will prove his innocence by “going on television and defending myself in the courtroom.”

Mills, who was sentenced to four years and six months, will now appeal his case to Italy’s highest court.

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