herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

proof of 'sexual instincts' enough to find berlusconi guilty, court told

The Milan court that convicted Silvio Berlusconi of paying an underage prostitute for sex at his infamous Bunga Bunga parties has said proof of intercourse is not necessary to find him guilty.

In a 326-page document supporting the June conviction, seven-year jail sentence and life-time political ban, the court ruled it only needs evidence the former premier's "sexual instincts" were stimulated in exchange for payment.

The document stated: "Indeed, stripping, nude dancing, revealing breasts and buttocks while winking, displaying their nudity for the defendant at close range, are all behaviours objectively suitable for stimulating the sexual instinct of Berlusconi."

The court cited testimony that the evenings culminated with physical contact with Berlusconi "such as rubbing, fondling of breasts and intimate parts and groping buttocks, hips and thighs".

It noted the Moroccan teen at the centre of the scandal, Karima el-Mahroug, known as Ruby, received $3,000 (€2,220) in cash at every party, plus jewellery and a lump sum of e57,000 purportedly to open a beauty salon, in exchange for sexual favours.

The court asserted Berlusconi was aware she was a minor – 17 – at the time of the 2010 encounters.

Both Berlusconi (77) and 21-year-old el-Mahroug have denied having had sex. Berlusconi disputes the charges, including one that he used his influence to force a public official to cover up the under-age prostitution charge, and claims the case is part of a judicial plot to sideline him politically.

The court concluded el-Mahroug, who was not charged with any offence, had prostituted herself in other situations and was a participant in the sexually-charged Bunga Bunga parties, at one point telling another young woman, "now I dance, then strip, then have sex".

It said the details of the sexual encounter with Berlusconi are "irrelevant," rather it was sufficient that she was "trading her body in any way for remuneration".

APPEAL

The filing of the court's reasoning paves the way for Berlusconi's defence to appeal the verdict and sentence. It also comes just a week before the Senate is expected to vote on whether to expel him on the basis of a tax-fraud conviction confirmed this summer by Italy's highest court.

Berlusconi, who has no role in government, has been weakened by the judicial woes, as well as his failed attempt to bring down the government last month.

In a bid to recoup his past glory, he has relaunched the Forza Italia party that catapulted him to political power two decades ago, but some of his closest allies abandoned him to start their own centre-right party.

hnews@herald.ie

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