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Milan's appeals court acquits Berlusconi of corruption

ROME, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - Milan's appeals court has acquitted ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, charged with bribing a Rome judge in the SME food group sale case, Italian TV reported Friday.

The Milan prosecutor had demanded a five-year term for Berlusconi, saying the ex-premier had given a $580,000 bribe to Renato Squillante for ruling in favor of Berlusconi.

"Finally, justice prevailed," Berlusconi's lawyer said.

The SME privatization case dates back to the 1980s. In 1985, judges did not allow rival Italian businessman Carlo de Benedetti to buy the group, which, prosecutors said, happened because Berlusconi bribed the judges.

Many criminal cases have been opened against Berlusconi in the last 10 years on charges of corruption and forging financial documents, but he was either acquitted or the cases were closed after the statute of limitations expired.

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