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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 12:47 GMT
Prosecutors ask for Mills trial
David Mills and Tessa Jowell
Mr Mills has announced his split from Ms Jowell
Italian prosecutors have asked a judge to let David Mills, the husband of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, be put on trial on corruption charges.

Judicial sources said prosecutors had also asked for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to be indicted.

They claim Mr Berlusconi paid Mr Mills $600,000 (344,000) for giving helpful testimony in two court cases.

International lawyer Mr Mills, who has announced his split from Ms Jowell, and Mr Berlusconi deny any wrongdoing.

Trial

Ms Jowell has denied any wrongdoing in connection with her husband's finances, and was last week judged by Tony Blair not to have broken the ministers' code.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said news of the indictment attempt "had not come as a surprise" but it was a matter for Mr Mills.

He said Downing Street would wait to see what happened but the big question about Ms Jowell had been answered and was not going to change.

Judge Fabio Paparella in Milan will now decide whether Mr Mills and Mr Berlusconi should stand trial.

Judicial sources say a preliminary hearing could come in May but there may not be an immediate decision from the judge.

Mr Mills and Ms Jowell announced the break-up of their marriage at the weekend.

Time limit

Mr Mills' lawyer blamed the split on the furore over the payment - which Mr Mills says came from another client.

The Italian prime minister faces the controversy ahead of elections next month. He has accused prosecutors of pursuing a politically-motivated campaign against him.

Under Italian law, the matter has to go to trial within two years or not at all.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
An explanation of why Italy wants to put David Mills on trial




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