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Berlusconi Appears at Fraud Case Hearing

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves as he leaves the Justice Palace in Milan, March 28, 2011

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made a rare appearance at a legal hearing on Monday on allegations of fiscal fraud and breach of trust in his business dealings.

The closed-door hearing in Milan was part of a process to decide whether the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician should stand trial in a case involving his company Mediatrade. It is one of several legal cases against the 74-year-old Italian leader.

In a telephone interview with one of the television stations he owns, Berlusconi called the charges against him ridiculous and unfounded, and accused his opponents of using the legal system as an ideological tool.

The Italian leader is already a defendant in two ongoing trials, and is also set to stand trial in April on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute and then using his position to try to cover up the alleged crime.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.