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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutor: Andreotti to Stand Trial

PALERMO, Italy -- A judge Thursday ordered former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti to stand trial in Sicily on charges of Mafia membership, prosecuting magistrate Roberto Scarpinato said.

Judge Agostino Gristina issued the ruling after six hours of defense and prosecution arguments. He set Sept. 26, 1995 as the date for the start of the trial of the politician who was a pillar of Italy's political class for half a century.

Palermo prosecuting magistrates have alleged the seven-time prime minister was a member of the Mafia and protected the crime organization in exchange for political support for his Christian Democratic party in Sicily.

Andreotti, 76, a life senator, has firmly denied the charges which are based on testimony from Mafia turncoats.