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Berlusconi immunity put to the test

Judge challenges law that protects premier

MILAN — Just when Mediaset owner and Italo Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi thought the corruption allegations against him had gone for good, it seems they may yet return to haunt him.

On Saturday, Milan’s public prosecutors succeeded in sending Berlusconi’s controversial immunity law to the Constitutional Court, Italy’s highest court, for fresh inspection.

The Alfano Law, which passed in July, grants Italy’s four most senior officials, including the prime minister, immunity from prosecution.

Berlusconi said the law was vital to protect himself from politically motivated attacks by left-wing judges and prosecutors.

Prosecutors, however, want the legislation rescinded in order to pursue their charge that the media mogul bribed British lawyer David Mills to the tune of $600,000 to lie in court about the existence of alleged slush funds sets up by Berlusconi’s broadcast group Mediaset.

Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, said he was confident that the law would be upheld.More ominous for Berlusconi, however, is the Milan judges’ decision that Mills, the estranged husband of British pol Tessa Jowell, should be tried for bribery with or without the prime minister.

The Constitutional Court may rule that Berlusconi remains above the law, but observers say it is unlikely that even he would be untouched should Mills be convicted.