Eight years in prison – that is the sentence an Italian prosecutor is urging a court to impose on the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In a corruption trial reaching its closing stages the leader is s accused of bribing judges to stop the sale of a state owned food chain to a rival businessman in the 1980s. Delivering her closing arguments in a court in Milan, prosecutor Ilda Boccassini called on the three judges hearing the trial to convict what she described as “the businessman who had judges on his payroll”. Berlusconi has vigourously denied the charges, claiming he is the victim of a politically motivated campaign by left-wing magistrates. The trial was suspended last year when his coalition government approved a law giving the prime minister and other high officials immunity from prosecution. That law was annulled, however, by the Italian Constitutional Court, and the trial resumed in April. Defence lawyers are due to sum up their case in early December, and a verdict is expected late this year or early in 2005.