A judge in Rome, Italy, dropped a fraud charge against former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday after finding that the statute of limitations had expired. Last week Italian prosecutors had asked to sentence Berlusconi to three years and eight months [JURIST report] in prison on the fraud charges. Berlusconi resigned as prime minister last November. He has been accused of embezzlement relating to his commercial broadcast company, Mediaset.
Berlusconi has been a defendant in nearly 50 cases. In February, a Milan court dismissed [JURIST report] corruption charges against Berlusconi. He had been accused of bribing his British tax lawyer, David Mills, to lie in two trials relating to his holding company Fininvest in the 1990s. During the same month, the prosecution of Rome, La Procura di Roma, had asked [JURIST report] the Tribunale Ordinario di Roma [official website, in Italian] to place the former PM on trial for tax evasion. He also faces trial on wiretap charges by publishing the transcript of a tapped phone conversation, trial on fraud charges and trial on abuse of power and underage prostitution charges [JURIST reports].