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Italian prosecutors want Berlusconi to face new corruption trial

People of Freedom (PDL) party member and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wipes his forehead as he attends the Upper house of the par
People of Freedom (PDL) party member and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wipes his forehead as he attends the Upper house of the par

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Thursday called for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to face another trial, on charges of bribing a senator, deepening the legal troubles of a key ally in Italy's coalition government.

A Naples judge must decide whether the evidence is sufficient to indict Berlusconi and order a trial.

The prosecutors accuse Berlusconi of having paid former Senator Sergio De Gregorio 3 million euros ($3.95 million) to defect from the small Italy of Values party shortly after the 2006 parliamentary election and join the center right.

His defection undermined then-Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government, which had a slim parliamentary majority, and contributed to its collapse in 2008.

De Gregorio has admitted taking money, and prosecutors asked that he stand trial alongside Berlusconi.

The request came a day after a Milan appeals court upheld a four-year prison sentence for tax fraud against Berlusconi, which will not take effect unless it is confirmed in a final appeal.

His People of Freedom party (PDL) is a key partner in Prime Minister Enrico Letta's right-left coalition government.

Berlusconi is already facing trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor in "bunga bunga" parties at his villa outside Milan.

He has denied any wrongdoing and says he is being persecuted by politically-motivated magistrates.

(Reporting by Amalia De Simone in Naples; writing by Steve Scherer; editing by Philip Pullella and Andrew Roche)

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