Silvio Berlusconi Lawyers Call for Acquittal in Closing Arguments in Mediaset Tax Fraud Case
ROME – Lawyers for former Italian prime minister and billionaire media kingpin Silvio Berlusconi have formally asked that charges against the 75-year-old leader in the tax evasion case tied to his media empire be thrown out for lack of evidence.
The case centers around charges that Mediaset officials, including Berlusconi and company chairman Fedele Confalonieri, juggled the company’s books in the way it recorded television content acquisitions in order to dramatically and illegally lower the company’s tax bill.
Attorneys Niccolo Ghedini and Piero Longo said in court arguments that while there was some evidence of wrongdoing at Berlusconi’s Mediaset that there was none to indicate Berlusconi was involved. Ghedini said that the case alleging Berlusconi’s involvement hinged on the former prime minister acting as a “silent partner” for television rights wholesaler Frank Agrama. But there was no evidence to connect the two men, who have both denied collaborating.
The attorneys did not call for the case to be thrown out, but they said Berlusconi should be immediately acquitted of all wrongdoing in the case.
The trial, which was started in 2007, is just one of an array of legal woes for Berlusconi, who also faces charges of corruption, abuse of power, and paying an underage girl for sex. Berlusconi has faced dozens of criminal and civil charges over the last 20 years, but has yet to be convicted in any of the cases.
Berlusconi, who stepped down as prime minister last year amid personal scandals and fears Italy could fall victim to the European debt crisis, has indicated he would seek reelection as prime minister in elections in 2013.