Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi lawyers storm out over refusal to stop sex trial

English
© ANSA

(see related stories on Berlusconi)
Milan, February 1 - Silvio Berlusconi's defence
lawyers stormed out of the trial into allegations the ex-premier
had sex with an underage prostitute on Friday after the court
rejected their petition to suspend proceedings because of
Italy's election campaign.
Berlusconi is leading the centre right's campaign for next
month's elections and two of his defence lawyers, Niccolo
Ghedini and Piero Longo, are lawmakers for the media magnate's
People of Freedom (PdL) party who are again standing for
parliament.
The defence team had said a hearing scheduled for Monday
should be postponed because election commitments constituted a
"legitimate impediment" to them being present and called for the
whole trial to be suspended until after the vote.
It is third time the court rejected a request from
Berlusconi for the trial to be suspended.
PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano called on Italian President
Giorgio Napolitano and the judiciary's self-governing body, the
Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), to intervene.
"We in the PdL consider the Milan Court of Appeal's
decision scandalous," Alfano said.
"They want to impede the head of the centre-right coalition
from conducting the election campaign because the hearings
schedule is such that it paralyses both Berlusconi and his
lawyers who are candidates.
"The magistrates are committing dirty tackles with their
procedural decisions".
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.
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 also 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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