Berlusconi lawyers seek to delay sex-for-hire case
Milan: Silvio Berlusconi`s judicial woes weighed on Italy`s political future on Tuesday as prosecutors requested an accelerated trial of the former premier on corruption charges and judges in his sex-for-hire trial ordered a medical visit to certify his ailments.
The judicial jockeying comes at a politically sensitive time for Italy, as it seeks to form a stable government following inconclusive national elections on Feb 24-25.
Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose forces finished first in the lower house vote, has ruled out an alliance with Berlusconi`s center-right coalition, which finished second.
But Bersani`s options are limited as comic-turned-political leader Beppe Grillo, whose movement finished third, refuses to align with any major party. Talks will begin March 20, after Parliament convenes Friday and votes in leaders of both houses.
Berlusconi has been seeking to have two Milan trials postponed due to an eye condition for which he has been hospitalized since Friday. Judges in Berlusconi`s tax fraud appeal continued with Saturday`s hearing after court-appointed doctors said his ailments were not severe enough to keep him from court.
But another Milan court today granted the motion to delay the hearing in the sex-for-hire trial after ordering a new medical visit to verify the severity of his ailments. Berlusconi`s lawyers submitted three medical certificates, citing the eye inflammation and a heart problem, to support the new delay.
Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini had been scheduled to wrap up her closing arguments in the trial in which Berlusconi, 76, is charged with having paid for sex with an underage Moroccan teen and using his influence to cover it up. They were put off until March 18.
Giovanni Orsina, a professor of political science professor at Rome`s LUISS university, said the intensifying judicial attention on Berlusconi at such a delicate movement has negative consequences on the political process "whatever you think of whose fault it is."
The situation makes it even more difficult for Bersani to consider any sort of political agreement with the center-right, while further polarizing Berlusconi supporters who see him as a persecuted figure, Orsina said.
Berlusconi has long complained that he is the target of a judicial campaign, citing many trials mostly in Milan and mostly related to his business dealings.
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