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Judge throws out some Berlusconi charges

Other charges including false testimony still stand

ROME — An Italian judge on Monday threw out some of the charges faced by Silvio Berlusconi and British lawyer David Mills in a fraud case involving Hollywood content used by Berlusconi’s Mediaset TV empire.

Given the expiration of the statute of limitations, Judge Edoardo D’Avossa will not press charges of embezzlement before July 1999 or charges of fraud and false accounting before 1998 for Berlusconi; charges of receiving stolen goods up to 1993 have been shelved against Mills.

However, the charges stemming from suspected criminal conduct after those dates remain in place. The case has been adjourned until Jan. 26.

The case involves alleged tax evasion on TV rights deals for Hollywood movies and also a complex supposed slush fund involving inflated prices.

Italian prosecutors allege Mediaset purchased rights to Hollywood studio product through two offshore companies set up by Mills.

Last year FBI officials tipped off by Italian investigators raided the Bel Air home and Sunset Blvd. offices of film and TV producer Frank Agrama, who acted as a middleman in several Mediaset transactions with Paramount during the 1980s and 1990s.

Agrama denies wrongdoing. As an American citizen, he cannot be tried in Italy for any alleged misconduct.

Mills, the estranged husband of British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, has been acquitted of a charge of receiving stolen goods. But he remains on trial charged with receiving $600,000 from Mediaset for not revealing details of the offshore companies.

The Milan trial also continues against Berlusconi and Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri on other charges including false testimony.

So far, Berlusconi has stood trial eight times in Italy and been cleared either on appeal or because the statute of limitations had expired.

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