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Italy: Berlusconi ordered to stand trial for bribing senator

last update: October 23, 17:39

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Naples, 23 Oct. (AKI) - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial for the alleged bribery of a senator, justice officials said on Wednesday.

The trial is scheduled to start in February.

Berlusconi is accused of paying left-wing senator Sergio De Gregorio 3 million euros to defect to his conservative People of Freedom party (PDL) in 2006 and help bring down the centre-left government of Romano Prodi.

No comment was immediately available from Berlusconi's lawyers.

Also charged in the latest case is Berlusconi's former aide, Valter Lavitola, who is accused of being an intermediary in the bribe.

"He has explained why he gave the money to De Gregorio, but clearly the judge believes it is necessary to hold a trial. We are happy to do so and will clarify everything," said Lavitola's lawyer Guido Iaccarino.

De Gregorio, who accused Berlusconi, was sentenced to 20 months in jail in an earlier plea bargain.

The 2008 collapse of the Prodi government triggered elections that returned Berlusconi to power for the third time.

The new trial is the latest legal setback for 77-year-old Berlusconi, who was banned from holding office for two years after his conviction for tax fraud in August.

The billionaire media tycoon is facing a year's community service and ejection from the Italian Senate after the binding 1 August conviction.

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