Prosecutor seeks Berlusconi trial on revealing court secrets

AFP , Thursday 22 Sep 2011

A Milan prosecutor requests the trial of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for unveiling court secrets in a case in 2005

Berlusconi
Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves as he leaves the Justice Palace in Milan September 19, 2011 (Photo:Reuters)

A Milan prosecutor has requested that Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stand trial for being an accomplice to revealing court secrets in a case dating back to 2005.

The premier's newspaper Il Giornale published transcripts of wiretaps in December 2005 being used as evidence in an enquiry into a crooked takeover bid by Unipol bank for the BNL bank, and should therefore have remained secret.

The transcripts revealed alleged collusion between a senior left-wing politician -- a Berlusconi rival -- and the head of the Unipol bank, and the news was heavily exploited by the right for political ends.

Prosecutors investigating the case last year had pushed for the charges against the 74-year-old premier to be dropped, but their request was rejected.

Berlusconi's brother Paolo, who owns Il Giornale newspaper, was indicted in the case in June, and his trial is scheduled to begin on October 4.

The wiretaps episode is linked to a banking scandal which rocked Italy.

In May the former governor of Italy's central bank, Antonio Fazio, was sentenced to four years in jail for market-rigging in another 2005 takeover saga between the Banca Popolare Italiana (BPI) and the Dutch Bank ABN Amro.

Should the prosecutor's request for Berlusconi to face legal proceedings be granted, it will become the premier's fourth trial currently.

In the other three the beleaguered prime minister, whose popularity ratings have dropped to an all time low, faces accusations of bribery, tax fraud, and abuse of power and paying for sex with a 17-year-old pole dancer.

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