Saturday 21 October 2017

Berlusconi will learn fate as 'bunga' trial draws to a close

Silvio Berlusconi will learn of verdict today
Silvio Berlusconi will learn of verdict today

Michael Day Rome

SIlvio Berlusconi, Italy's former premier, will learn today if he has been found guilty of buying sex from a minor.

After 14 titillating months of unrelenting embarrassment for Mr Berlusconi, Milan's bunga bunga sex trial reaches a climax.

Prosecutors want the tycoon jailed for six years and banned from holding office ever again on sex and corruption charges.

Mr Berlusconi is accused of paying the erotic dancer Moroccan-born Karima El-Mahroug for sex in 2010 when she was 17. Paying someone under 18 for sex is illegal in Italy.

The tycoon has admitted he gave Ms El-Mahroug envelopes stuffed with €500 notes, but denies he had sex with her. He told the Milan court there had "never been scenes of a sexual nature" at his soirees.

But the controversial billionaire's insistence that he hosted "refined and elegant" dinners has contrasted comically with the avalanche of tawdry claims; from strippers in nun costumes to bankrupt impresarios pimping on his behalf.

Prosecutors say he deliberately lied to the police – telling them Ms El Mahroug was the granddaughter of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, in order to have her released on the night of May 27, 2010, when she was held for suspected theft.

Mr Berlusconi has denied all charges.

If there is a guilty verdict today, Mr Berlusconi will rant. But he won't forget the other even more pressing legal problems in what is, even by his standards, a torrid summer.

This week, Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement will table a parliamentary motion arguing that Mr Berlusconi, as a businessman who has enjoyed state subsidies, is ineligible to hold elected office.

Then comes the final verdict on whether his Fininvest holding company has to make a potentially crippling €0.5bn compensation payment to a rival business. (© Independent News Service)

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