IMAGE: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Dario Pignatelli  /  Reuters file
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, shown in June while watching a parade in Rome, has been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges.
updated 10/30/2006 1:01:59 PM ET 2006-10-30T18:01:59

A Milan court on Monday ordered former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and a British lawyer to stand trial on charges of corruption.

Berlusconi is accused of ordering the payment in 1997 of at least $600,000 to David Mills in exchange for the lawyer’s false testimony in two trials against Berlusconi. Both men deny the allegations.

Milan Judge Fabio Paparella issued the ruling after refusing a defense motion to remove him from the case.

If convicted, Mills and Berlusconi could be sentenced to between three and eight years in prison, prosecutors have said.

Berlusconi has a long history of legal troubles linked to his business interests based in Milan.

In past cases, he was either acquitted or cleared of the charges because the statute of limitations had expired. He has always maintained his innocence.

Berlusconi and Mills have separately been ordered to stand trial by a Milan court on charges of false accounting, embezzlement and tax fraud in the purchase by Berlusconi’s Mediaset SPA empire of TV rights for U.S. movies.

Mills is married to British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. They formally separated last March.

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