Saturday 23 September 2017

Berlusconi accused of paying off bunga bunga witnesses

Silvio Berlusconi covering his eyes during a confidence vote
Silvio Berlusconi covering his eyes during a confidence vote

Nicole Winfield

An Italian court accused ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and his lawyers of tampering with evidence by paying off witnesses in a trial related to his notorious "bunga bunga" parties.

It sent its documentation to prosecutors to investigate the possible corruption of a judicial process. Berlusconi's lawyers rejected the accusation.

If prosecutors go ahead, the accusation in the court's ruling would lead to a new headache for Berlusconi, who this week was kicked out of parliament for at least six years over a tax fraud conviction.

The court suggested that Berlusconi paid off the would-be show girls who attended his dinner parties to downplay the sexually charged nature of the evenings when they testified.

He did so, the judges suggested, because he was facing related charges in another case involving accusations he paid for sex with an underage prostitute who was also a "bunga bunga" guest.

WIRETAPS

Citing testimony and telephone wiretaps, the Milan court said Berlusconi convened about a dozen of these young women to come to his Milan mansion on Jan uary 15, 2011, to meet with his lawyers.

They were summoned after the women's homes were searched as part of the police investigation into the parties.

From then on, the judges wrote, the women began receiving €2,500 apiece each month from Berlusconi and subsequently they offered nearly identical testimony in court, denying that the dinner parties had sexual overtones.

The court made the accusation in explaining its July 19 decision to convict three of Berlusconi's former associates of procuring girls to prostitute themselves at the parties.

Berlusconi wasn't a defendant in the trial. He was convicted in a separate trial of paying for sex with 17-year-old Moroccan girl, Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby.

Irish Independent

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