The trial of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on corruption charges is due to open in Milan today. The 70-year-old is accused of paying his British lawyer 455,000 euros in return for false testimony in court.
The former Premier faces up to 12 years in prison in in the event of a conviction. Prosecutors say the alleged bribe is connected to an ongoing case in which Berlusconi stands accused of tax fraud and money laundering in relation to his broadcast company, Mediaset.
The lawyer in question, David Mills, is the estranged husband of the UK Culture Minister Tessa Jowell. Both Mills and Berlusconi have denied any wrongdoing. Mediaset is alleged to have bought the distribution rights to US films but salted away some of the cash involved to avoid tax. It is claimed Mills was asked to lie about the sums of money that changed hands.