Berlusconi May Face Fresh Trial Over Sex Scandal | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Berlusconi May Face Fresh Trial Over Sex Scandal

Posted: Jun 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, could face new charges for the “bunga bunga” affair after prosecutors said Tuesday were evidence that he bribed witnesses who testified in his defence during his earlier trial over the scandal.

In March, after a first instance ruling and two appeal trials, Berlusconi was cleared of charges of soliciting sex from a minor and abusing his position of power to bury the scandal, mainly due to lack of evidence.

The five-year case centred around Karima El Mahroug, a nightclub dancer also known as Ruby Heart Stealer, who attended nighttime parties at Berlusconi’s villa in 2010 when he was Premier and she was 17.

According to prosecutors in Milan, Berlusconi paid more than 10 million euros, approximately $11.2 million to scores of showgirls who were invited to the parties.

He was later questioned and summoned in court, including 7 million euros payment to El Mahroug.

The “bunga bunga” affair is named after an underground room in Berlusconi’s villa.

According to court testimonies, showgirls performed lap dances there, sometimes wearing masks of famous people like U.S. President Barack Obama.

The alleged bribes started in November 2011 and continued well into 2015, prosecutors stated in a document where they formally notified Berlusconi, El Mahroug and 32 other suspects that they had finished investigation on them.

Such a step normally precedes a prosecution request for the suspects to be sent to trial.

A judge will have to confirm whether the evidence collected is solid enough to warrant the start of a court case.

In the Italian legal system, perverting the court of justice through corruption carries a minimum penalty of four years’ imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years.

The court that conducted the first trial ordered the investigations over the alleged bribery in 2013, after hearing defence witnesses give apparently identical answers and admitting to receiving monthly allowance payments from Berlusconi.

Berlusconi, 78, a media and football tycoon who led three governments between 1994 and 2011 and still leads the conservative Forza Italia party, has had several run-ins with the law during his career.

He recently finished serving a community service sentence in March in a tax fraud conviction that triggered his expulsion from parliament.