Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi's sex trial verdict to come after elections

English
© ANSA

Milan, January 21 - Judges in Milan on Monday said
the trial into allegations ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi paid for
sex with an underage prostitute will not come until after next
month's Italian general election.
The court changed the trial's schedule with the last
hearing set to take place on March 11. Italy's elections take
place February 24-25.
The court made the announcement after Berlusconi's defence
lawyers again requested the trial be suspended completely until
after the election.
Last week the court rejected a petition for proceedings to
be halted while the 76-year-old media magnate leads his
centre-right coalition's campaigning.
Berlusconi argued he would be too busy campaigning and
there was a danger of rivals exploiting the trial.
Niccolo' Ghedini, one of Berlusconi's lawyers and an MP for
his People of Freedom (PdL) party, argued that: "this court is
not letting outgoing parliamentarians contribute to the election
campaign".
Three-time Italian premier Berlusconi is also an MP and
Piero Longo, another member of the defence team, is a PdL
Senator.
The judges went into talks to consider the suspension
request after they had suggested to prosecutors that a "moment
of reflection" might be for the best.
The prosecutors did not agree.
Berlusconi is accused of paying to have sex with a young
Moroccan dancer, Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the
Heart-stealer, before she was 18 during alleged Bunga Bunga sex
parties at his home.
Both the ex-premier and the woman deny ever having sex. She
said money she received from Berlusconi was given as part of a
gift.
Berlusconi is also accused of abuse of office for allegedly
having used his influence when he was premier to spring El
Mahroug from a Milan police station to hush up the affair after
an unrelated theft claim.
The charge of having sex with an underage prostitute
carries a jail term of up to three years, and abuse of office 12
years.
Judges in Berlusconi's appeals trial against a one-year
conviction for tax fraud on film rights for his Mediaset TV
group on Friday rejected a petition for that case to be
suspended until after the election.
But another trial into accusations Berlusconi was involved
in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap has been put
on hold.
In the ongoing and several other previous trials,
Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the
victim of a minority group of allegedly left-wing prosecutors
and judges who he says are persecuting him for political
reasons.
Berlusconi has been tried some 30 times but has only been
convicted three times - verdicts that were either timed out or
overturned on appeal - prior to the Mediaset fraud verdict.

photo: Karima El Mahroug.

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