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Italy: Naples prosecutors request Berlusconi stand trial for bribing senator

last update: May 09, 18:07

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Naples, 9 May (AKI) - Naples prosecutors said on Thursday they had requested that Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi go on trial for bribing former centre-left senator Sergio De Gregorio to change parties

Prosecutors alleged that Berlusconi paid De Gregorio three million euros to switch to his centre-right People of Freedom party in 2006, a move allegedly aimed at bringing down the centre-left government of Romano Prodi

The Prodi government, which had a wafer-thin majority in the Senate, fell in 2008, leading to new elections that were won by Berlusconi.

Prosecutors also requested that De Gregorio and Walter Lavitola, an associate of the ex-premier's and ex-director of the newspaper L'Avanti!, be indicted for corruption.

De Gregorio has admitted to receiving two million euros from Berlusconi, which he did not declare for tax purposes, but denied the money was a bribe.

Lavitola received a two-year, eight-month sentence in March for attempting to blackmail Berlusconi in exchange for hushing up payments to escorts at alleged sex parties at the ex-premier's home.

Berlusconi's latest indictment adds to his legal woes after a Milan appeals on Wednesday upheld his four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from politics for tax fraud in a film-rights case involving his Mediaset television company.

The billionaire media tycoon also faces up to 15 years in prison for paying an underage exotic dancer for sex and abuse of office in his so-called 'sex trial' taking place in Milan.

He and his People of Freedom party are planning a rally in the northern city of Brescia on Saturday to protest his alleged persecution by "politically biased" Milan judges.

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