ITALY

Berlusconi corruption trial 'to start November 27'

The corruption trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to start November 27, after Italy's constitutional court voted to lift his immunity.

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AFP - The corruption trial against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will take place on November 27, judicial sources said Saturday, after a high court this month stripped him of his immunity.

The trial was suspended last year after Italy's parliament passed legislation giving the premier immunity, but the Constitutional Court struck down the law on October 7, paving the way for legal cases against Berlusconi to resume.

Berlusconi is accused of paying his British former tax lawyer, David Mills, 600,000 dollars (400,000 euros) to give false evidence in two trials in the 1990s.

Mills, who was tried separately, is appealing a guilty verdict delivered in February, when he was sentenced to four and a half years in jail.

Berlusconi has vowed to serve out the rest of his five-year term, which he won in April 2008, even if he is convicted.

"I still have confidence in the existence of serious magistrates who issue serious sentences, based on facts," Berlusconi said according to extracts released Saturday of interviews he gave to journalist Bruno Vespa for a book.

"If there is a conviction at trial, we would be confronted with such a subversion of the truth that I would all the more feel the duty to resist (and stay) at my post to defend democracy and rule of law," he said.

Berlusconi also expressed confidence that Mills's conviction would be overturned.

Mills, the estranged husband of British Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, once admitted receiving the money from Berlusconi but said it had been "in recognition" for his work.

He later recanted and said the money was a stipend paid to him by Italian shipbuilder Diego Attanasio.

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