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Prosecutors seek five years prison term for Silvio Berlusconi in bribery case

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 Rome: Prosecutors have asked a judge to jail Silvio Berlusconi  for five years for allegedly bribing a senator in a plot to bring  down a Centre-Left government in 2008. It is the former  premier’s latest corruption trial.

In the case, the 78-year-old billionaire media tycoon is accused of  paying Senator Sergio De Gregorio to desert the fragile ruling  coalition of then-premier Romano Prodi, whose government  lasted less than two years.

The Prodi government fell after it lost a key confidence vote in the Senate upper house of parliament by 161 to 156 on January 24, 2008.

Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party won the resulting snap election, and he became Italian Prime Minister for the third time, serving until 2011.

Court officials said the judge would deliver a verdict on July 8.

Trial prosecutors requested a four year and four months sentence for Berlusconi’s associate Valter Lavitola, who is accused of handing over the bribe to De Gregorio.

Even if found guilty, Berlusconi, 78, will remain at liberty pending the automatic appeal allowed him by Italy’s judicial system. His age also makes it unlikely he will go to prison, even if he receives a binding conviction.

A flamboyant figure, Berlusconi has stood trial more than 100 times over the past 25 years, including for having sex with an underage prostitute but has received just one binding conviction — in 2013 for tax fraud.

He was allowed to serve his one-year sentence for tax fraud by volunteering once a week at an old people’s home near Milan where he helped out with dementia sufferers.

Berlusconi amassed a fortune in the construction and media sectors and founded his Forza Italia party in the 1990s. (IANS)

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