Drawing an end to a four-year corruption trial, an Italianprosecutor has asked a court to sentence Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi toeight years in jail for bribing judges.
Ilda Boccassini said that Berlusconi had made regularpayments to judges in Rome to help his holding company Fininvest in a corporatetakeover battle of the state-owned food conglomerate SME in the mid-1980s.
Berlusconi's sprawling business empire controls, amongothers, Italy's leading film production and distribution company, Medusa, andthe country's leading private TV network, Mediaset.
Berlusconi has continued to deny the charges during hisfour-year trial, and says that he is the victim of a political campaign byleft-wing magistrates.
Defense lawyers are expected to sum up their case in earlyDecember. A verdict is expected in early 2005.
Berlusconi has been investigated in a number of casesconnected to his business empire since he entered politics in 1994. He wasconvicted in several cases, but the sentences have always been overturned onappeal.