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TOP FININVEST EXEC FACES PROSECUTION

More headaches for Italian TV tycoon Silvio Berlusconi and his Fininvest media empire: For the first time since the beginning of the investigation into political kickbacks started three years ago, a top Fininvest executive is to be tried.

Fininvest chairman and Berlusconi’s closest associate, Fedele Confalonieri, will be prosecuted, along with 89 other people, on charges of illegal kickbacks to political parties in 1989 and 1990, judicial sources said last week.

Confalonieri has denied that contributions made by Fininvest to various political parties were illegal. He attacked Milan magistrates, claiming that their decision was part of a political plot against Berlusconi.

“It is peculiar that the public prosecutor’s decision (to charge Confalonieri) was announced just three days before the TV referenda.” Those referenda, if passed when voters go to the polls June 11, could force Berlusconi to relinguish two of his three national comercial webs and limit the amount of advertising breaks webs can air during films.

In a separate development, judicial sources in Naples said that Berlusconi’s younger brother and business partner Paolo is being investigated as part of a narcotics probe.

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