Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Quick trial sought for Berlusconi

COURT TIME?The magistrate has at least five days to decide if there is enough proof to warrant a speedy process or if prosecutors will have to go through normal channels

AFP, MILAN

Milan prosecutors yesterday requested an immediate trial for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of abuse of power and having sex with an underage girl nicknamed “Ruby the Heartstealer.”

In a statement released to the press, the prosecutors said they had “sent the examining magistrate a request for an immediate trial on the basis of sufficient evidence” for both offences.

Chief prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati and his fellow judges allege that the 74-year-old leader paid for sex with nightclub dancer Ruby, who was 17 at the time, and improperly used his power as prime minister by requesting police release her after she had been picked up for alleged theft in May.

Under Italian law, the fast-track procedure of summary judgment, which skips preliminary hearings and goes straight to the trial, can be requested by the public prosecutor’s office when there is clear evidence of an offence.

Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex, let alone with Ruby, who turned 18 in November.

His lawyers also claim the Italian leader did not abuse his power when he told police to release Ruby, because he believed she was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, which was untrue.

NOT ON THE JOB

Berlusconi had therefore been carrying out his duty by intervening to help a fellow leader and reduce diplomatic fallout, they say.

The prosecutors also sent a legal memo yesterday in which they reject the possibility that the offences had been committed by Berlusconi in his role as prime minister.

There had been no “ministerial crimes,” the prosecutors said.

The charges are being kept separate from the probe into starlet and television agents Lele Mora and Emilio Fede, and former oral hygienist Nicole Minetti, all under investigation for instigating prostitution.

Examining magistrate Cristina Di Censo will now have at least five days to come to a decision and could fix a start date for the trial for sometime in the coming months.

Should she decide the request lacks sufficient proof to warrant a speedy process, magistrates will then have to try to bring Berlusconi to trial through normal, lengthier channels.

Di Censo will also have to decide whether the Milan court is competent to judge the case.

Berlusconi’s lawyers claim the prime minister can only be judged by a special court for members of parliament.

“The Milan court is violating the Constitution,” Niccolo Ghedini, one of the prime minister’s lawyers, said ahead of the request on Tuesday.

MILAN’S CREDIBILITY

Should Di Censo give the Milan court the nod, Ghedini has said he will appeal and the motion will go to a vote in the Chamber of Deputies, where Berlusconi’s center-right ruling party has the majority.

The probe into the prime minister’s allegedly wild sex life was made public on Jan. 14 just a day after a top court partially stripped him of political immunity.

The prime minister flatly refused to obey summons for questioning, claiming the Milan magistrates were not qualified to handle the case.

However, with judges now deciding on a case-by-case basis if Berlusconi should appear in court proceedings, he may be forced to obey a summons should the case go to trial, if he cannot prove a legitimate impediment.

The billionaire politician has slammed the court probe into his relationship with Ruby as one more plot against him by the country’s judges, claiming he has never paid for sex, let alone with minors.

This story has been viewed 953 times.
TOP top