Berlusconi ex-lawyer 'deeply ashamed' of false bribe claim

22nd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Silvio Berlusconi's ex-lawyer David Mills told a court in Milan via video-link Thursday that he was ashamed to have falsely claimed the former Italian prime minister bribed him.

The billionaire tycoon, who stood down as premier in November, is accused of bribing Mills with $600,000 (440,000 euros) in exchange for providing false evidence during two trials in the mid-1990s.

The Briton, who was Berlusconi's tax lawyer, had written a letter to the Inland Revenue claiming that he had received the money from the former prime minister.

"It's something of which I am deeply ashamed and which I can only attribute to the very strange state of mind which I was in at the time," Mills told prosecutors during the video conference from a London court.

"It's pure imagination. It's fiction. It's a novel," he said.

Mills, the estranged husband of former British Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, admitted receiving the money from Berlusconi as "recognition" for his work but later recanted and said the money was a stipend paid to him by Italian shipbuilder Diego Attanasio.

"I wish to state with the greatest emphasis at my command that Dr Berlusconi is entirely innocent in this case and had absolutely nothing to do with the 600,000 dollars which is the subject of the case.

"I wish to apologise to him for all the trouble that I've caused."

Speaking after the hearing, Berlusconi said he was confident the latest evidence provided by Mills "brought this case to a close."

© 2011 AFP

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