Rome

Prosecutors seek indictment for Berlusconi in bribe case

Ex-senator De Gregorio allegedly received millions to switch

Prosecutors seek indictment for Berlusconi in bribe case

Rome, May 9 - Naples prosecutors on Thursday said they had requested Silvio Berlusconi be sent to trial over allegations the ex-premier bribed former Senator Sergio De Gregorio to change political sides. They also requested that De Gregorio, who has said he received millions from Berlusconi, and Walter Lavitola, an associate of the ex-premier's and ex-director of the newspaper L'Avanti!, be indicted. De Gregorio defected from the centre left during Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 government and eventually joined Berlusconi's party. Berlusconi allegedly paid the turncoat senator three million euros to switch sides from the centre left to the centre right, say prosecutors. The Prodi government fell in 2008 after losing the support of the Senate, leading to new elections that Berlusconi won. De Gregorio originally admitted to receiving two million euros from Berlusconi, which he did not declare for tax purposes, but denied that it was bribe money. In March the Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero quoted De Gregorio saying he took the money to join Berlusconi's formation with the explicit purpose of bringing down Prodi. Berlusconi has been hit on numerous fronts by legal woes, which he chalks up to left-wing magistrates who allegedly have it out for him for political reasons. On Wednesday, a Milan court upheld a four-year conviction against Berlusconi for tax fraud on TV rights bought by his Mediaset TV empire, which the media magnate will appeal to the supreme Court of Cassation. He is on also trial in Milan over accusations he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan dancer, and is accused of abuse of office in the same case.

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