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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy's Ministers on Trial

VENICE, Italy () -- Italy's flamboyant ex-foreign minister Gianni de Michelis went on trial Wednesday accused of taking kickbacks for his Socialist Party.

De Michelis, whose long hair and liking for disco-dancing made him one of the country's best-known international figures, is charged along with another ex-minister Carlo Bernini, a former Christian Democrat.

The two politicians, neither of whom was present in court, are accused of violating party financing laws by accepting kickbacks of 840 million lire ($519,000) for freeway construction contracts.

De Michelis left politics after general elections in March, when voters ousted Italy's corrupt traditional parties in favor of a coalition led by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi.