Cameras banned from Berlusconi trial

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ROME -- Television cameras will be banned from the just-started graft and corruption trial involving Italian media baron and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the trial judge announced Thursday.

It also was announced that the trial, which started Tuesday, will be halted for procedural reasons and restart March 22.

Live coverage of Italian trials is unusual, but not unprecedented. Most major trials, however, at least allow cameras in the courtroom in order to show brief clips on news programs. In this case, news programs will have to rely on artists sketches or stock footage.

Berlusconi, who controls the Mediaset broadcasting giant, did not appear in the courtroom during the first two days of the trial. But the 70-year-old leader will be forced to appear at some point, marking the first time he will actually face a judge to answer criminal charges.

Though he has been accused of criminal wrongdoing multiple times, Berlusconi has never been convicted.

This trial revolves around whether Berlusconi paid British lawyer David Mills some $800,000 to withhold information during a previous trial. If they are found guilty, both Berlusconi and Mills could face up to eight years in jail.
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