Sex trial aims to discredit my govt: Berlusconi
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 21:07
  
Milan: Italian prosecutors demanded Wednesday that Premier Silvio Berlusconi be put on immediate trial over accusations he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl and used his influence to try to cover it up. The Italian leader blasted the "disgusting" action, saying it aimed to topple his government.

The prosecutors, who filed their request in Milan, are seeking a trial now because they believe there is overwhelming evidence against the 74-year-old leader.

A judge must decide whether to accept the prosecutors' request and indict Berlusconi, or dismiss it. The decision is expected to be made in the next two weeks.

Berlusconi has a long history of legal woes and fierce battles with the Italian judiciary, which he accuses of being politically motivated against him. But this is the first judicial action that targets his private life and not his business dealings as a media mogul, raising new questions over how long he can hold on to power.

The case centers on his relationship with the Moroccan nightclub dancer nicknamed Ruby. Italian newspapers have been filled for weeks with salacious details about Berlusconi's parties at his villas, based on wiretaps of conversations between women who attended them.

"It's shameful, really," Berlusconi told reporters Wednesday in Rome, criticizing the prosecutors' move. "It's shameful and disgusting."

"I wonder who's going to pay for these activities that, in my humble view, only have a subversive aim," Berlusconi added, lamenting that the case had "offended the dignity of the country."

In Milan, dozens of his supporters rallied against the prosecution's decision, some waving Italian flags across the street from the courthouse.

The prosecutors allege that Berlusconi paid for sex with Ruby, who has since turned 18, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained for the suspected theft of euro3,000 ($4,103), allegedly fearing her relationship to him would be revealed.

Ruby ultimately was released into the custody of a Berlusconi aide who also is under investigation.

Paying for sex with a prostitute is not a crime in Italy, but it is if the prostitute is younger than 18.

The child prostitution charge carries a possible prison sentence of six months to three years; the abuse of influence charge, which experts say is more dangerous for Berlusconi, carries a possible sentence of four to 12 years.

A judge must decide whether to accept the prosecutors' request and indict Berlusconi, or dismiss it. The decision is expected to be made in the next two weeks.

Berlusconi has a long history of legal woes and fierce battles with the Italian judiciary, which he accuses of being politically motivated against him. But this is the first judicial action that targets his private life and not his business dealings as a media mogul, raising new questions over how long he can hold on to power.

The case centers on his relationship with the Moroccan nightclub dancer nicknamed Ruby. Italian newspapers have been filled for weeks with salacious details about Berlusconi's parties at his villas, based on wiretaps of conversations between women who attended them.

"It's shameful, really," Berlusconi told reporters Wednesday in Rome, criticizing the prosecutors' move. "It's shameful and disgusting."

"I wonder who's going to pay for these activities that, in my humble view, only have a subversive aim," Berlusconi added, lamenting that the case had "offended the dignity of the country."

In Milan, dozens of his supporters rallied against the prosecution's decision, some waving Italian flags across the street from the courthouse.

The prosecutors allege that Berlusconi paid for sex with Ruby, who has since turned 18, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained for the suspected theft of euro3,000 ($4,103), allegedly fearing her relationship to him would be revealed.

Ruby ultimately was released into the custody of a Berlusconi aide who also is under investigation.

Paying for sex with a prostitute is not a crime in Italy, but it is if the prostitute is younger than 18.

The child prostitution charge carries a possible prison sentence of six months to three years; the abuse of influence charge, which experts say is more dangerous for Berlusconi, carries a possible sentence of four to 12 years.


First Published: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 21:07


comments powered by Disqus