Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi asks sex, Mediaset trials moved to Brescia

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Milan, March 15 - Silvio Berlusconi's defence
lawyers on Friday asked for the ex-premier's two Milan trials to
be moved to the nearby city of Brescia on the grounds of alleged
bias by magistrates he says are persecuting him.
The lawyers accused the Milan judges and prosecutors of
being "hostile" to Berlusconi, as allegedly shown by their
recent orders for medical checks that an eye problem which sent
the ex-premier to hospital made him genuinely unable to attend
hearings.
When a claim of so-called 'legitimate suspicion' of bias is
upheld, a trial is moved to the nearest major city. If Italy's
highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation, admits the
petition, the trial verdicts will be pushed back.
Berlusconi is on trial for alleged sex with an underage
prostitute called Ruby and appealing a four-year conviction for
tax fraud on film rights involving his Mediaset media group.
The three-time premier's People of Freedom (PdL) party
staged a controversial demonstration inside the Milan courthouse
on Monday and are planning another one to support claims the
alleged campaign of persecution has been stepped up after
Italy's recent general election.
The demo came after the second medical-check order for the
centre-left leader, who is being treated at Milan's San Raffaele
hospital for the condition reportedly caused by someone poking
him in the eye, as well as resultant high blood pressure.
A poll Friday said a third of Italians agree with the media
tycoon's claim that allegedly left-wing magistrates have been
trying to hound him out of politics since he became premier in
1994.
Berlusconi has insisted he will not meet the same fate as
his one-time sponsor and personal friend, late premier Bettino
Craxi, who was driven from power by anti-corruption probes and
died in self-imposed exile in Tunisia in 2000.
The centre-right leader, whose burgeoning TV empire was
shielded by Craxi in the 1980s, has accused Milanese magistrates
of trying to bring him down as they did his controversial
predecessor.
The Socialist prime minister of Italy from 1983 to 1987,
Craxi was at the centre of the 1992-1994 Mani Pulite (Clean
Hands) anti-corruption investigations carried out by Milan
prosecutors. Fingered as the main culprit as Italy's political
establishment crumbled, he fled to Tunisia to avoid prison in
1994 and died at his Tunisian villa in January 2000.
Berlusconi has for years been claiming a group of
prosecutors and judges is trying to drive him out of politics,
but Wednesday's statement was his strongest direct comparison to
his old friend and godfather of his second daughter Barbara, now
an AC Milan director.
''Rumors are rife that people are expressly and shamelessly
talking about an operation Craxi 2'', Berlusconi told
Panorama magazine, part of his media empire, which includes
Italy's three largest commercial TV stations and its biggest
publishing group, Mondadori.
''They couldn't eliminate me by democratic means, that is
through elections, so now they're trying to use the justice
system for political ends. They know I am the real obstacle on
the Left's path".
Berlusconi's defiant statement came as the main
centre-left group, the Democratic Party (PD), for the first time
said they would vote to approve Berlusconi's arrest if a request
with convincing evidence came in from prosecutors.
PD National Coordinator Maurizio Migliavacca told Sky Tg24
that his party would vote to arrest Berlusconi in any of the
court cases currently open against him, if the prosecution
showed the case against him was strong enough.
As well as the Ruby and Mediaset trials, Berlusconi is
under investigation on suspicion of bribing former Senator
Sergio De Gregorio to switch parties in 2006, a move which
destabilized the centre-left government and hastened its
collapse in 2008.
In another case, a Milan judge on March 7 sentenced him to
a one-year jail term for involvement in the publication by his
family newspaper Il Giornale of an illegally obtained wiretap
concerning Italian insurance company Unipol's almost-successful
bid to buy Banca Nazionale del Lavoro in 2005.
The wiretap severely embarrassed then centre-left leader
Piero Fassino.
Monday's PdL demo was stigmatised on Tuesday as
"unprecedented" by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
Napolitano called for calm on both sides, but tensions have
continued to simmer.
A verdict in the sensational Ruby trial is expected later
this month, unless the trial is moved, upping pressure on the
ex-premier in the aftermath of last month's inconclusive general
election.
Parliament convened Friday but parties could not agree on
Speakers amid continuing deadlock.
Berlusconi's alliance came narrowly second to the centre
left but it has been blackballed by both centre-left leader Pier
Luigi Bersani, who faces the tough task of forming a government,
and anti-establishment comedian and activist Beppe Grillo, whose
5-Star Movement rode a huge shock protest vote to become the
biggest single party in the House and hold the balance of power
in the Senate.
No party has a majority in the upper house and pundits have
widely predicted Democratic Party (PD) leader Bersani's efforts
to woo Grillo supporters to attain a confidence vote will fail.
One scenario sees another election this summer and the
possible replacement of Bersani as PD leader by the much
younger, more media-savvy and centrist mayor of Florence, Matteo
Renzi, who polls say has a wider appeal.
Grillo has urged Berlusconi to imitate Craxi, saying this
would be better for the health of Italy and the ex-premier.
"Berlusconi is scared of ending up like Craxi, but in
reality it would be lucky for him," Grillo said on his blog.
"He could escape to Tunisian beaches full of Rubies without
having the daily ball-breaking of the magistrates.
"He should let himself get arrested as soon as possible
without any extenuating circumstances and take flight before the
arrest.
"He will gain in health terms. He will heal from his
uveitis (an irritation and swelling of the uvea, the middle
layer of the eye) and the Italians will finally heal from the
orchitis that he has inflicted on them for 20 years".
Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicles.

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