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    Silvio Berlusconi corruption trial opens

    NAPLES, Italy — Silvio Berlusconi’s political corruption trial opened Tuesday in the southern city of Naples — the latest legal challenge for the three-time former Italian premier.

    Berlusconi and another defendant are accused of paying a senator $4 million to switch parties, weakening a rival government that eventually fell.

    Berlusconi, who denies the charge, did not attend the opening session. The 77-year-old media mogul remains an influential political force in Italy despite being stripped of his Senate seat for a tax fraud conviction last fall. He still faces a prison sentence in that case, and a court is expected to assign him a year of community service after the original four-year sentence was reduced in a general amnesty.


    The corruption case has ignited a new political storm in Rome after the Senate president announced the legislative body would seek to be a civil party in the case. Senate President Pietro Grasso has been accused of partisanship.

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    The court is expected to decide Wednesday whether to accept the Senate’s petition.

    Also seeking to be a civil plaintiff in the case is the Italy of Values party, which politician Sergio de Gregorio bolted to join Berlusconi’s center-right party.

    De Gregorio has acknowledged accepting the money between 2006 and 2008.