[JURIST] The Italian audit court, Corte del Conti [official website, in Italian], announced Wednesday that the number of corruption cases in Italy have risen by 229 percent over the past year. Court president Tullio Lazzaro [official profile, in Italian] voiced his concerns [Reuters report] over the significant increase in public corruption scandals from 2008 to 2009, saying that legal sanctions are no longer a sufficient deterrent to criminal behavior. In recent years, Italy has seen numerous corruption scandals [JURIST news archive] in both the business and political realms. A recent high-profile corruption scandal involves Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], currently facing a possible third corruption charge [JURIST report].
Berlusconi, who is already facing two separate trials on charges of corruption and bribery, is accused of embezzlement and tax fraud related to his television company Mediaset [media website, in Italian], though his lawyers have dismissed any substance to the charges. Berlusconi's son and 11 other members of Mediaset's board are also implicated. A Milan judge will decide if there is enough evidence to hold a trial, which could begin this month. In January, Italian judges postponed [JURIST report] a separate corruption trial at Berlusconi's lawyers' request. He is charged with paying his British lawyer David Mills [JURIST news archive] to provide false testimony in two trials involving Mediaset. His tax fraud trial has also been postponed [JURIST report]. Berlusconi has been previously acquitted of false accounting and bribery, and has had some other charges against him dropped [JURIST reports].