A court in Italy has ordered a new trial for three-time ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on corruption charges, creating a new obstacle for his bid to return to office.
Milan Judge Carlo Ottone De Marchi scheduled the new trial for Berlusconi on April 5, local media reported on Saturday.
The 80-year-old former Italian statesman allegedly paid as much as 10 million euros and gave expensive gifts to young women to "buy” their silence in various other court cases involving him. The new trial is now aimed at determining whether the payments amounted to hush money and interfered in the other judicial proceedings.
Berlusconi has denied any wronging. One of his lawyers, Federico Cecconi, has said the new prosecution is "the first trial for the crime of generosity.”
Berlusconi is the leader of Italy’s center-right Forza Italia Party, which is currently the opposition party in the country’s parliament.
Last year, Berlusconi was tried for a sexual relationship with an underage teenager when he was premier and then using his influence to cover it up. While he was acquitted in that case, several other complaints of sexual misconduct have been filed against him, in addition to the accusations of financial corruption.
A 2013 tax fraud conviction has forced him out of his Senate seat and left him barred from holding public office for the next few years. Berlusconi has challenged the ban, taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Berlusconi eyes participating in Italy’s national election, due in 2018, but his hopes for running for office may be dashed with the newly-scheduled trial.