Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi's lawyers demand acquittal in sex trial

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Milan, June 3 - Silvio Berlusconi's defence team on
Monday asked a Milan court to clear the ex-premier of charges he
paid for sex with an underage prostitute and abused his office
to try to cover up the affair.
Prosecutors have requested Berlusconi be sentenced to six
years in jail for allegedly having sex with a Moroccan former
dancer known as 'Ruby' before she was 18 and allegedly abusing
his position to spring her from a police station after she had
been detained on an unrelated theft claim in 2010 when he was
premier.
The sentence request is split into five years in prison for
abuse of office and one year for paying for sex with the
underage dancer, for a six-year total.
Prosecutors have also called for Berlusconi to be banned
for life from holding public office.
Defence laywer Niccolo' Ghedini, who is also a lawmaker for
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, said the three-time
premier should be acquitted because the alleged crime involving
Ruby - whose real name is Karima El Mahroug - "does not exist".
"The acts of a public official do not have to be considered
a crime," Ghedini said referring to Berlusconi's intervention to
remove Ruby from detention the night of May 27-28, 2010 to avoid
an international incident because he was under the false
impression that she was a relative of Egypt's then president
Hosni Mubarak.
"They can be (simply) human actions".
Ghedini said his client did not ask police to accelerate
procedures for Ruby's release from police custody on the
night the underage Moroccan was held on a theft charge.
On the abuse of office charge, prosecutors claim that
Berlusconi, who was premier in 2010, phoned from a European
leaders' meeting in Paris and pressured police in Milan to
release Ruby after an acquaintance accused her of stealing 3,000
euros.
Since she was under eighteen, a judge ordered the police to
direct her to a shelter for juvenile offenders.
On Monday Ghedini told the court Berlusconi was "convinced"
Ruby was "close to Mubarak" and that was why he had allegedly
mentioned her at a State luncheon with the former Egyptian
leader in May 2010.
Police released Ruby to Nicole Minetti, a Lombardy regional
councillor, ex-aspiring showgirl and Berlusconi's former dental
hygienist, who was accompanied by a Brazilian prostitute.
Minetti and two other people, in a related trial, are
accused of providing prostitutes - including Ruby - for parties
a Milan prosecutor described as ''Bacchic orgies'' at the home
of the ex-premier.
The prosecutor on Friday requested that the defendants -
Minetti, ex-TV anchor Emilio Fede and bankrupt talent scout Lele
Mora - be sent to jail for seven years.
Ruby and Berlusconi both deny they had sex and say the 4.5
million euros he gave her was a gift to help her set up a beauty
salon, a dream she had had since escaping from an allegedly
abusive Islam-enforcing father in Sicily.
''Silvio Berlusconi never asked to accelerate procedures.
He only asked for a piece of information,'' Ghedini said in his
defence argument on Monday.
Police chief-of-staff Pietro Ostuni had already testified
in court that he told the juvenile affairs judge, Giorgia
Iafrate, ''to accelerate procedures, not Berlusconi'', Ghedini
said.
Ghedini added that Iafrate had said in deposition that she
''autonomously decided to entrust Ruby'' to the custody of
Nicole Minetti, not under pressure from Berlusconi.
Berlusconi, Ghedini maintained, spoke to Ostuni just once
''asking only for a piece of information''.
Ghedini added, ''I don't know how one can claim a crime
took place'' like the one Berlusconi is charged with, ''if not
from a sociological point of view''.
The media magnate's lawyer also reiterated its claim of
bias against the Milan court and suggested the court had cosy
relations with prosecutors.
In several ongoing and 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.
Last month Italy's supreme Court of Cassation rejected
Berlusconi's petition for the sex trial and for an appeal
against a four-year conviction for fraud at his media
empire to be transferred to Brescia, saying claims of bias by
Milan judges were "defamatory accusations".
Ghedini, however, said the defence's position had not
changed.
"The impression is that I generate annoyance as the defence
lawyer," said Ghedini.
"The prosecution does not seem to generate a similar
annoyance," added the lawyer, who said the judges shared
"cultural closeness" to the prosecutors.
"Rightly or wrongly, we consider the court prejudiced".
Lead prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the court last month
that there was "no doubt" Ruby was a prostitute and had had sex
with Berlusconi.
The court is expected to announce its verdict on June 24.

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