Silvio Berlusconi paves way for return to Italian politics
Former PM declared this week that he would like to be Italy's Finance Minister
There is a growing sense in Italy that Silvio Berlusconi's star is rising again, a sense that has been heightened by a judge's decision in Rome yesterday to throw out tax-fraud charges ranged against the mogul, his son and senior executives in his broadcast empire.
The news follows the former Prime Minister's increasing re-engagement with national politics, leading to the declaration this week that he would like to return to government as Finance Minister in a new centre-right administration.
Mr Berlusconi was buoyed yesterday by the preliminary investigations judge Pierluigi Balestrieri's ruling that there was insufficient evidence to send the 75-year-old tycoon, his son Piersilvio and 10 other people to trial on tax-evasion charges relating to the purchase of US film rights.
The judge invoked the statute of limitations in dismissing other indictments for which the Rome prosecutors called; these also pertained to the tax affairs of Mr Berlusconi's Mediaset TV empire between 2003 and 2004.
In February the "David Mills" bribery case, in which the former premier was accused of paying the British lawyer to lie under oath, also expired under the statute of limitations. Mr Berlusconi remains a defendant in two other trials, both taking place in Milan. In one he faces tax-fraud charges relating to an earlier period in his TV business affairs.
Earlier this month, the prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale called for the three-time Prime Minister to get three years and eight months in jail for his part in the alleged plot to create overseas slush funds with money saved by tax-dodging. The next hearing is set for early July.
But some experts doubt whether the prosecution will be able to nail the mogul while armed only with complicated evidence from 15-year-old accounting trails across several continents. Professor James Walston, of the American University in Rome, said: "He's paving the way for a comeback. For now, he's only set his sights on Finance Minister so as to appear modest."
- 1 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 4 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...
£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...
£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...