Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi sex-trial verdict due after vote

English
© ANSA

Milan, January 21 - Judges in Milan on Monday said
that the verdict of 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.
But the judges rejected a second defence plea to suspend
the trial for the duration of the election campaign.
They also turned down the defence's request to call George
Clooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to testify.
Testimony from the Hollywood actor and the Real Madrid
striker was adjudged "superfluous" to the case.
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.
The defence wanted Clooney and Ronaldo to attest to the
non-sexual nature of the three-time premier's parties.
Last week the court rejected a first 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 and Piero Longo, who are Berlusconi's
lawyers and lawmakers for his People of Freedom (PdL) party,
presented a fresh request for a suspension on Monday on the
grounds that the trial also stopped them from campaigning.
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.
The court set the next hearing for Monday, January 28,
when Ruby's mother will testify for the defence.
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.

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