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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 09:03 GMT
Berlusconi fraud trial suspended
Silvio Berlusconi launches campaign in Milan 9 Feb 2008
Mr Berlusconi is bidding for his third term as prime minister
Italy's court has suspended a trial of opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi until after general elections in April so that he can focus on campaigning.

The trial concerns alleged fraud at Mr Berlusconi's private TV company.

The case will now resume the week after the 13-14 April poll, when the accused could be Italy's new prime minister.

Mr Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, has been the focus of numerous corruption inquiries but has always either been acquitted or had the cases dismissed.

The court in Milan on Monday upheld a defence request to freeze the trial to allow Mr Berlusconi to campaign.

The case concerns alleged fraud at Mr Berlusconi's Mediaset TV company.

It centres on US film rights which prosecutors allege were bought by Mediaset at artificially inflated prices for the purpose of tax evasion. Mr Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Berlusconi has served as Italy's prime minister twice before.

Opinion polls show that his centre-right opposition is several points ahead of its centre-left rivals, but the lead is narrowing.

The snap elections were called after last month's resignation of centre-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Berlusconi spurns coalition bid
04 Feb 08 |  Europe
Profile: Silvio Berlusconi
01 Feb 08 |  Europe

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