Berlusconi's defence challenges venue in sex trial
Milan: Premier Silvio Berlusconi's defence
lawyers fought to get his sensational under-age prostitution
trial moved out of the criminal courts on Monday as the Italian
leader battled for his political future after suffering a
withering defeat in local elections nationwide.
Berlusconi's lawyer argued that the Italian leader was
convinced that a Moroccan teen at the centre of the scandal
was indeed the niece of former Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak when he tried to get her out of trouble last May, and
therefore was acting within his official duties and should be
judged by a parliamentary body.
The trial resumed after a two-month break and the
morning after late-night celebrations marking the defeat of
Berlusconi's candidates for mayor in his northern stronghold
of Milan and in trash-plagued Naples.
The results revealed a weakened Italian leader and
heightened the impression that he is too distracted by his
legal woes to govern effectively.
Berlusconi was in Romania on a two-day state visit,
and did not attend the trial. But he was eager to combat any
impression that the election defeats posed a political threat
to his governing coalition.
Not only did Berlusconi's candidates lose in major
races like Milan and Naples, so did candidates of his ally the
Northern League in northern cities like Novara where they have
"I had a meeting to schedule my funeral, but I am too
busy in the coming days so we'll have to delay it," Berlusconi
joked with journalists in Bucharest.
Despite Berlusconi's famous self-deprecation,
commentators today insisted that the election results showed a
shift in the way Italians perceived Berlusconi's leadership.
"In 15 days, the face of Italy has changed. The
transformation is deep and radical," political analyst Stefano
Folli wrote in il Sole 24 Ore.