Score one for Berlusconi


ROME -- Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi got a bit of legal relief Friday, even as a separate case against the three-time prime minister resumed after a break.

A Milan court rejected an appeal from state prosecutors in regard to a 2004 case in which Berlusconi was found innocent of bribing a judge. In March, prosecutors had asked that Berlusconi be sentenced to five years in jail if the previous ruling was overturned.

But Gaetano Pecorella, Berlusconi's lead attorney in the case, said the court found that there was not enough evidence for the 2004 exoneration to be overturned. The court itself did not issue a statement on the decision.

Berlusconi "was very moved," according to Pecorella, who issued a statement on the mogul's behalf. "Finally, I've seen justice done," Berlusconi said in the statement.

Prosecutors could still appeal the decision one more time. But even if they choose not to, Berlusconi is not in the clear. The more recent trial, in which Berlusconi is accused of bribing British lawyer David Mills $800,000 to lie for him in court, restarted Friday after a two-week break.

That trial began in November and has thus far been delayed four times: twice to consider motions to have the judge changed, once because of a lawyer's strike and once because of Berlusconi health issues.

At least two other cases against Berlusconi are in the works, with paperwork being filed in both Rome and Milan.

In all the cases, Berlusconi has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, saying that the multiple charges are related to a plot against him led by his enemies in business and politics.

Berlusconi's media holdings include three national television networks, a film production and distribution company, a leading publisher, a daily newspaper and an advertising firm.