Berlusconi beats corruption charges

Former Italin P.M. walks as judge rules that statute of limitations passed

ROME — Italo media mogul Silvio Berlusconi will not be prosecuted in a five-year-old bribery case after a Milan court ruled on Saturday that the statute of limitations had expired.

The former prime minister was accused of paying a $600,000 bribe to British lawyer David Mills, a specialist in offshore tax havens, for allegedly providing false testimony in trials in 1997 and 1998 concerning an alleged attempt by Berlusconi’s Mediaset to evade taxes pertaining to Hollywood movie rights’ deals.

“We would have preferred that the judge had ruled that no crime had been committed,” his lawyer Niccol Ghedini told Sky TG 24.

“Half-justice has been done,” Berlusconi said.

The trial had been a race against the clock from the start. Proceedings were slowed down because Berlusconi was in office as prime minister for most of the time. He resigned in November at the peak of Italy’s financial crisis.

Berlusconi has stood dozens of trials in the past two decades, most in connection to business dealings at Mediaset, and has always been cleared either on appeal or because the statute of limitations had expired — earning him the nickname the Teflon Don, because nothing sticks.

His legal woes are not over. He faces three ongoing cases, including one on tax fraud charges connected to Mediaset and one of paying for sex with an under-age prostitute.

An indictment earlier this month, involving wiretaps and information allegedly leaked to damage a political opponent, goes to trial on March 15.

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