Page last updated at 22:04 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 23:04 UK

Mills appeal calls for Berlusconi

Mr Mills arriving at his former home in 2006
Mr Mills denies taking a bribe from Mr Berlusconi

Prosecutors in the appeal case of UK tax lawyer David Mills have opposed a defence request for the Italian prime minister to appear as a witness.

The estranged husband of UK minister Tessa Jowell was convicted of accepting a large bribe from Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi had been shielded from prosecution by a law he proposed, but this week judges overturned it.

Ansa news agency said prosecutor Laura Bertole told the court Mr Berlusconi knew "nothing" about the matter.

"Silvio Berlusconi told the press 'I don't know this David Mills'. He therefore claims to know nothing" about the matter, Ansa quoted Ms Bertole as telling the court in Milan.

David Mills is appealing against his conviction in February of accepting a £400,000 bribe from the Italian PM, for which he received a jail sentence of four and a half years.

Ms Bertole asked the court to confirm the sentence against Mills, who has protested his innocence in what he calls a "highly political" case.

Mr Mills is unlikely to serve any prison sentence because Italy's statute of limitations means the case will soon expire.

Silvio Berlusconi
Mr Berlusconi introduced an immunity law soon after taking office in 2008

Mr Mills, who separated from former culture secretary Tessa Jowell in 2006, was one of Mr Berlusconi's consultants on offshore tax havens.

In his trial the prosecution alleged Mr Berlusconi paid Mr Mills for not revealing details of offshore companies during two previous trials in 1997 and 1998, in which the lawyer gave evidence as an expert witness.

The charges stemmed from a letter which Mills sent to a British accountant in 2004 in which he said the £400,000 payment came from "Mr B".

Mr Mills initially admitted having received money from Mr Berlusconi "in recognition" of the evidence he gave, but later said the money had come from an Italian shipping magnate, Diego Attanasio.

Mr Berlusconi has denied making any such payment to Mr Mills.

This week Italy's top court ruled that a law that granted Mr Berlusconi and other top officials immunity from prosecution while in office was unconstitutional.

The Mills case was one of three corruption and tax fraud that were frozen because of the immunity law, but the judges' decision has paved the way for them to resume.

As of earlier this year, Mr Berlusconi had been involved in 2,500 hearings, had received 587 visits from the police and had spent 174m euros (£155m) in legal fees during his political career.

In some cases he was found guilty of several charges of illegal party financing, corruption, bribery and false accounting - but he always won on appeal, thereby avoiding jail.

On Friday he described himself as the most persecuted person "in the entire history of the world".



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Berlusconi v the courts
14 Jan 10 |  Europe
In pictures: Berlusconi's annus horribilis
14 Dec 09 |  In Pictures
Berlusconi immunity law overruled
08 Oct 09 |  Europe
A New Labour 'golden couple'
17 Feb 09 |  UK Politics
Full text: David Mills' letter
27 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Jowell's husband to 'clear name'
06 May 06 |  UK Politics

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific