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Berlusconi tried for political corruption for allegedly paying senator to leave rival govt

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In this Dec. 4, 2013 photo former Premier Silvio Berlusconi attends the launch of a book "Sale, zucchero e caffe'" (Salt, Sugar and Coffee) by his friend, journalist Bruno Vespa, in Rome. Berlusconi's political corruption trial has opened in the southern city of Naples on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, yet another legal challenge for the three-time former premier. Berlusconi is accused of paying a senator 3 million euros (4 million US dollars) to a bolt a rival government, which eventually fell. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) (The Associated Press)

Silvio Berlusconi's political corruption trial has opened in the southern city of Naples, presenting yet another legal challenge for the three-time former Italian premier.

Berlusconi is accused in the trial that opened Tuesday of paying a senator 3 million euros ($4 million) to switch parties, weakening a rival government that eventually fell.

Berlusconi, who denies the charge, remains an influential political force despite being stripped of his Senate seat for a tax fraud conviction last fall. He still faces a prison sentence in that case.

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, as permitted by Italian law. Majority whip Pietro Grasso has been accused of partisanship.