[JURIST] An Italian appeals court Friday denied the request of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST archive] to remove the judge presiding over his tax fraud trial. Berlusconi and co-defendant David Mills [Guardian profile] had asked that Judge Edoardo d'Avossa be removed [JURIST report] from the current trial, citing d'Avossa's involvement with other Berlusconi trials. The Milan appeals court rejected the request because the present case involves "facts and behaviors completely different from the activities examined in the previous proceedings." Berlusconi's defense team said it plans to appeal the decision with the nation's highest criminal court.
The charges stem from allegations [JURIST report] that, in deals struck between 1994 to 1999, Berlusconi's media empire, Mediaset [corporate website], falsely reported the broadcast royalties paid for US films, thus avoiding taxes totaling 125 billion old lire. Berlusconi has faced numerous criminal trials, but has never been found guilty. In September 2005 he was cleared of false accounting charges and in June 2005 he was acquitted on bribery charges [JURIST reports]. AP has more.