Berlusconi wins as EU court upholds Italo law

Legislation partially decriminalizes false accounting

LUXEMBOURG — Italo media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a surprise victory Tuesday when the European Union’s top court said EU law could not overrule an Italian law that critics say was tailormade to protect him.

The law partially decriminalizing false accounting was introduced by Berlusconi’s government in 2001. It forced a Milan court to halt a corporate corruption trial that involved the prime minister. Opponents claim he legislated himself out of trouble.

Milan prosecutors asked the European Court of Justice in 2002 whether the law was in line with an EU directive on company law. But even though the European Court of Justice found problems with the Italian law, it ruled in Berlusconi’s favor.

The judgment makes it unlikely that Milan magistrates will revive their stalled corruption trial against Berlusconi, which dates back to financial dealings in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Berlusconi still has other legal woes to settle.

Last week, prosecutors in Milan asked a judge to put him on trial for alleged corruption in a case involving the disputed purchase of film rights by his television company Mediaset.