Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018

Prosecutors request conviction in Berlusconi sex trial


(By Christopher Livesay)
Milan, May 13 - Prosecutors on Monday requested a
six-year combined jail term - five years for abuse of office and
an additional year for paying for sex with an underage dancer -
for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi in his sex trial in Milan.
Prosecutors also called for Berlusconi to be banned for
life from holding public office.
Berlusconi is charged with having sex with an underage
prostitute known as 'Ruby' and allegedly abusing his position to
spring her from a police station on an unrelated theft claim.
The ex-premier and media magnate was facing maximum
possible terms of three years and 12 years respectively.
Berlusconi and Ruby deny having sex and the three-time
premier claims the case is the latest example of allegedly
left-wing prosecutors trying to hound him from office.
Lead prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the court there was
"no doubt" Ruby was a prostitute and had had sex with
Berlusconi, and went on to contest a series of arguments from
the defense.
Berlusconi has long claimed that he intervened to remove
Ruby from jail the night of May 27-28, 2010 because he was under
the false impression that she was the niece of Egypt's then
president Hosni Mubarak and that avoiding an international
incident was in the interest of the country.
Boccassini claimed when the police headquarters' chief in
Milan, Pietro Ostuni, called the police commissioner about
Berlusconi's phone call, Ostuni knew "full well that the story
about Mubarak's niece was a colossal lie and he knew full well
that the girl was underage, Moroccan, and an escapee from a
group home and that the then-premier was interested in her".
She also claimed that numerous defense witnesses "were
forced to lie" and said that evidence given by showgirl Miriam
Loddo and by a former Berlusconi adviser on foreign relations
Valentino Valentini were not true.
The remarks infuriated Berlusconi defence lawyer Piero
Longo, who interrupted the prosecution.
Prosecutors also accused Berlusconi of paying off Ruby with
4.5 million euros and shielding her from scrutiny "with a
battery of guards" that was akin to a "military apparatus".
Berlusconi's legal team recoiled after prosecutors then
requested the six-year prison term, arguing that it "defied
judicial precedent," according to Nicolo' Ghedini.
Berlusconi said the six-year request was the fruit of
"prejudice and hate".
"Theories, innuendo, twisting, falsehoods inspired by
prejudice and hate, all against the evidence, beyond the
imaginable and the ridiculous," he said in a statement.
"Everything is allowed behind the shield of (judicial)
robes. Poor Italy!".
Friends and associates leapt to his defense.
"The words and tone used by the prosecutor Boccassini are
proof of prejudice against Berlusconi, and intolerable political
persecution," said Senator Altero Matteoli.
Daniele Capezzone, chairman of the House finance committee
and a member of Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom
(PdL) party, called the prosecutor's comments "absurd and
surreal" and the case "absolutely fragile and inconsistent".
Berlusconi's defense team will present its side on June 3.
A court ruling is expected on June 24.
The sex case is the most sensational and potentially the
most dangerous in a series of trials against a man who has
reclaimed centre stage in politics with the formation of Italy's
new right-left government.
Last week, however, Berlusconi suffered a legal setback
when his four-year tax-fraud conviction in trading film rights
at his Mediaset media empire was upheld on appeal.
The case now goes to Italy's supreme Court of Cassation.
Berlusconi is also appealing a one-year sentence for
involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap.
Naples prosecutors have also requested the media magnate be
indicted for allegedly bribing a Senator to change political
colours and help bring down Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 centre-left
Berlusconi claims to be the victim of biased prosecutors
who have been conducting a witch-hunt against him since he
entered politics in 1994.
His party held a demonstration over the weekend in the
northern Italian city of Brescia protesting judicial
"persecution" in response to the Mediaset tax fraud ruling.

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