Judge summons prime minister and cohorts

MILAN — Italy’s media mogul prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is due in court June 24 following the latest investigation into allegations of tax fraud at his Mediaset empire.

Berlusconi, along with 11 others, including son and Mediaset vice president Piersilvio Berlusconi, company chairman Fedele Confalonieri and U.S. film producer Frank Agrama were summoned Tuesday by Milan judge Marina Zelante to appear in preliminary proceedings resulting from the investigation.

The prime minister will probably avoid the hearing, thanks to his recently passed “legitimate impediment” law, which allows ministers to skip court proceedings for up to 18 months by citing government business. The others will not be able to hide behind this edict, however.

Berlusconi and Agrama are accused of tax dodging and embezzlement. Pier Silvio Berlusconi and Confalonieri are accused of tax fraud — all in regard to the purchase of U.S. film rights by Mediaset at allegedly artificially inflated prices.

The charges say the tax fraud occurred between 2005 and September 2009, and the embezzlement between February 2003 and November 2005. All deny wrongdoing.

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