Decision on Berlusconi bribery trial postponed

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Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying off Senator De Gregorio after the 2006 elections. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
18:15 CEST+02:00
An Italian judge in the southern city of Naples on Friday postponed a decision on whether or not to try former premier Silvio Berlusconi for allegedly bribing a senator.

A preliminary hearing on charges that the 76-year-old magnate in 2006 bribed left-wing senator Sergio De Gregorio with €3 million to join his party and topple the cabinet of then-prime minister Romano Prodi closed without reaching a decision.

The judge fixed the next hearing for September 16th and said the ruling on whether to try Berlusconi would take place on October 23rd.

Prosecutors in May alleged Berlusconi paid off Senator De Gregorio after elections in 2006 which Prodi won by just a handful of votes.

A few months later, De Gregorio crossed the aisle and joined the Berlusconi opposition in a move that helped bring down Prodi in 2008, and the subsequent elections were won handily by the media magnate.

The senator has confessed to the judges and the media that he pocketed the bribe and the indictment hearing is being held to decide whether or not to implement the charges and begin a new trial against Berlusconi.

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The investigation is based in Naples since that was De Gregorio's seat.

Berlusconi's lawyers had argued that the court was not competent to rule on the issue, but their appeal to have the case moved to the capital was rejected on Friday.

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