Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi's eye new source of contention at Ruby trial

English
© ANSA

(by Denis Greenan).
Milan, March 8 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's eye
problem became a fresh cause of contention with prosecutors at
his trial for allegedly paying a teenage prostitute for sex
Friday.
The lead prosecutor in the so-called Ruby case, Ilda
Boccassini, asked judges to reject the three-time premier's
request for a "legitimate impediment" to skip Friday's hearing
even though he went to hospital for treatment.
But it then became apparent that the eye condition was more
serious than first thought and his personal doctor said he would
probably have to stay in Milan's San Raffaele hospital
overnight.
The 76-year-old media magnate has uveitis, an irritation
and swelling of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye.
"It is not to be excluded that Silvio Berlusconi will stay
in hospital tonight and tomorrow morning," said Dr. Alberto
Zangrillo.
In the end, the judges granted Berlusconi's 'legitimate
impediment' plea and adjourned the trial until Monday.
Earlier, Boccassini appealed to judges to reject
Berlusconi's plea, saying "there has been an escalation of
medical certificates recently".
Boccassini was expected to wrap up her cross-examination of
the defendant and deliver her closing arguments by the middle of
the month, with a verdict to come soon after.
Berlusconi and his supporters have accused Milan judges of
continuing politically inspired prosecution with a flurry of
verdicts slated to be handed down after the recent election,
where Berlusconi came second.
On Wednesday the first verdict, a guilty one carrying a
one-year sentence, came in for involvement in the publication of
an illegally obtained wiretap about a bank takeover that
embarrassed a centre-left leader in 2005.
A Milan appeals court is also scheduled to rule later this
month on Berlusconi's appeal against a one-year sentence for
fraud in purchasing film rights for his Mediaset TV empire.
In the Ruby case, Berlusconi is accused of paying a
17-year-old Moroccan-born nightclub dancer whose stage name was
Ruby Heartstealer for sex after 'bunga bunga' parties at his
villa in 2010, when she was 17 - under the legal age for
prostitution in Italy, 18.
He is also charged with subsequently abusing his position as
premier to spring her from a police station where she was being
held on an unrelated theft claim.
After Thursday's conviction in the wiretap case, Berlusconi
and his People of Freedom (PdL) party angrily reaffirmed they
would fight alleged judicial persecution with street protests.
This week the PdL said it would hold monthly "freedom
square" protests, the first on March 23, to demonstrate against
"concentric attacks" by prosecutors against Berlusconi.
The move came after it emerged that Berlusconi was being
probed in Naples for allegedly paying three million euros to
Senator Sergio De Gregorio to switch sides from the centre left
to the centre right.
De Gregorio, who prosecutors say has admitted to receiving
bribes, defected from the centre left during Romano Prodi's
2006-2008 government and eventually joined Berlusconi's party.
"It's increasingly clear that there is an attempt to
eliminate Silvio Berlusconi via judicial means, as attempts to
do so via electoral and democratic ones have failed," said PdL
Secretary Angelino Alfano.
In the ongoing and several other previous trials,
Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the
victim of judicial persecution.
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 last year's Mediaset fraud
verdict.

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