Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says that "half justice is made" after a court ended a bribery trial without any verdict.
MILAN, ITALY (FEBRUARY 25, 2012) (REUTERS) -
Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday (February 26) dubbed as 'half justice' the decision by a court to end his trial on charges of bribing British lawyer David Mills.
Italian judges said the statute of limitations had run out and a verdict could not be reached.
"The tribunal of Milan, in the name of Italy's people, considering article 532 (of the) penal procedure code, declares not to proceed (in the suit) against Silvio Berlusconi for the charges against him because these have expired under the statute of limitations", said judge Francesca Vitale, reading out the verdict in a court room packed with media from all over the world.
The case surrounding Mills was one of the most prominent of the scandals involving Berlusconi, Italy's richest media entrepreneur as well as its dominant political figure of the past two decades.
Prosecutors had been seeking a five-year prison sentence but the decision effectively lifts the threat of any sanction against the 75-year-old media tycoon, who controls Italy's biggest private television broadcaster.
Commenting on the verdict, Berlusconi appeared serene and relaxed, yet emphasised he was not totally satisfied with it.
"Regarding the Mills trial, I have said that half justice is made because if we looked at the facts there could only have been a full verdict of acquittal for not having committed the fact (bribery), and this was clear also five years ago," said the former premier, replying to reporters at a dinner following his soccer club AC Milan's match against Juventus.
Berlusconi, who resigned as prime minister in November as the euro zone crisis menaced Italy, has always denied wrongdoing in the case, repeatedly accusing what he called politically biased left-wing judges of mounting a campaign to destroy him.
Mills was convicted in 2009 of taking a $600,000 bribe in return for agreeing to withhold incriminating details about the former prime minister's business dealings when he testified in separate fraud trials against Berlusconi.
But the case was shelved the following year because of the amount of time that had expired and Mills was never extradited to serve his 4 1/2 year sentence.
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