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Berlusconi survives, Putin lives, Dalai Lama reborn?

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RUBY, RUBY, RUBY: Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name ‘Ruby the Heartstealer at Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous
‘bunga bunga’ parties. A Rome court last week rejected an appeal to overturn the acquittal and to hold a new trial

RUBY, RUBY, RUBY: Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name ‘Ruby the Heartstealer at Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties. A Rome court last week rejected an appeal to overturn the acquittal and to hold a new trial

RUBY, RUBY, RUBY: Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name ‘Ruby the Heartstealer at Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties. A Rome court last week rejected an appeal to overturn the acquittal and to hold a new trial

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is profaning Buddhism by suggesting that he will not be reincarnated when he dies, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet said last Monday, in some of China's strongest comments to date on the subject.

Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death. China says the tradition must continue and it must approve the next Dalai Lama.

But the Nobel peace laureate, who fled his homeland in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, has said he thinks the title could end when he dies.

He has also stated that he will not be reborn in China if Tibet is not free and that no one, including China, has the right to choose his successor "for political ends".

Last Tuesday, Italy's highest court confirmed an acquittal for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor, giving him a boost as he is trying to hold on to his role as a conservative leader.

At the first trial in 2013, Berlusconi (78) was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. But that ruling was overturned by an appeals court in Milan that acquitted him last year.

The Rome court, in a ruling that is now definitive, rejected an appeal by Milan prosecutors to overturn the acquittal and to hold a new trial.

Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex with former teenage nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name 'Ruby the Heartstealer', during "bunga bunga" erotic parties at his palatial home near Milan when he was prime minister in 2010.

He was also charged with abusing his authority to get El Mahroug, who was 17 at the time, released from police custody over unrelated theft accusations.

The trial was the most sensational Berlusconi faced. It mesmerised Italy with its lurid accounts of sex parties. A stream of would-be starlets on his TV channels took the stand as witnesses.

Two hundred years after Napoleon's ambitions to rule Europe died at Waterloo, France won a small battle on Wednesday to prevent the minting of a euro coin commemorating an event that shaped today's continent.

Belgium withdrew a proposal to strike a special two-euro piece in honour of the Anglo-Dutch-German victory outside Brussels on June 18, 1815, an EU official said, averting an EU ministerial vote after Paris objected on the grounds that glorifying a time of conflict ran counter to efforts to foster European unity.

There was no immediate comment from France, which last year, struck a commemorative two-euro coin marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings that helped end Nazi German hegemony.

London newspapers, recalling Britain's role in thwarting French domination of Europe after the revolution, reported gleefully on discomfiture in Paris at the Waterloo anniversary in three months time - underlining how remembering history may stir deep-seated tensions among neighbours, just as the Western powers and Russia are at odds on marking their victory in 1945.

Poland will stress-test its defence capabilities with a series of countrywide drills involving the government, local authorities and the military in response to the Ukraine crisis, Polish president's chief security adviser said.

A former eastern bloc country which became a Nato member in 1999, Poland is concerned that Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in Ukraine may be a foretaste of it reasserting itself in the rest of Eastern Europe.

Russian state television aired what it said was footage of President Vladimir Putin working at his residence outside Moscow last Friday, a first appearance since he dropped out of sight days ago, triggering rumours he was ill or sidelined by internal conflict.

In the footage, Putin was shown in his office at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence, where he conducts many of his meetings, sitting across a table from Supreme Court head Vyacheslav Lebedev and talking about plans to reform the judicial system.

Dressed in a grey suit and a blue patterned tie, he looked in no way different from usual. In the brief footage, he was shown nodding and smiling as Lebedev spoke and could be heard saying a few words.

Iceland will not start negotiations with the European Union about joining the bloc, its foreign ministry said, confirming the ruling party's 2013 election promise and formalising a freeze on accession talks since it came to power.

The North Atlantic nation of 325,000 people underwent a financial meltdown in 2008, bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy after three banks collapsed during the global financial crisis.

That crisis boosted support for membership of the EU in a nation that had traditionally been isolated from mainland Europe and experienced conflict over fishing quotas that impact one of the main drivers of its economy.

"The government considers that Iceland is no longer a candidate country and requests the EU to act in accordance with this from now on," the foreign ministry said in a statement after it said it had spoken with EU president Latvia.

Iceland had started talks on joining the EU in 2009 but after the election of the current, more EU-sceptic government, popular support has retreated.

Sunday Independent