ROME – Silvio Berlusconi has been definitively acquitted by Italy’s highest court on charges that he sought to bribe judges in a case pertaining to a battle to buy food congolomerate SME.

Italy’s Cassation Court has upheld Berlusconi’s previous acquittals in this case, which proscutors had appealed.

Berlusconi had first been absolved in 2004 in the so-called SME case, which had been dragging on since the 1980’s when a judge ruled that state-owned SME should go to the Berlusconi-led offer.

At that time the TV-tycoon and former prime minister was still building his Mediaset empire and had not yet entered the political arena.

“Finally, after many years, much suffering, and after the country was scarred by this trial, Berlusconi’s innocence has been proven,” said Gaetano Pecorella, one of Berlusconi’s lawyers.

The verdict comes as Berlusconi, 71, who still faces corruption charges in other cases connected to Mediaset, says he is preparing to soon run for prime minister again on a conservative ticket.

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

He has always maintained his innocence, claiming he is the victim of leftist prosecutors.