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Six-year jail term sought for Berlusconi

Italian prosecutors charge the former prime minister with abuse of office and having sex with a minor.

Last Modified: 13 May 2013 20:19
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Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with a minor at his Arcore villa in 2010 [AFP]

Italian prosecutors called for a six-year jail sentence and a lifetime ban from politics for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is charged with abuse of office and having sex with a minor.

The 76-year-old centre-right politician is accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name Ruby the Heartstealer, when she was under 18, during the notorious "bunga bunga" parties at his Arcore villa in 2010.

The more serious charge by the prosection on Monday was the abuse of powers of his office.

During a separate incident in 2010, Berlusconi arranged for El Mahroug to be released from police custody where she was being held on theft charges of a 3,000-euro bracelet.

They requested five years imprisonment for that plus a year for having sex with an underage woman. The verdict is expected on June 24. But no final verdict will be enforced in either case until the appeals process in exhausted, which can last for years.

"At Arcore there was a system of organised prostitution aimed at the satisfaction of the sexual pleasure of Silvio Berlusconi," Ilda Boccassini, Milan chief prosecutor, said in a more than six-hour closing argument.

Boccassini said a small army of young women, many of them aspiring starlets, took part in the sex parties at Berlusconi's residence, hoping to make it big on one of his television channels.

Those who stayed on after dinner were rewarded with cash, cars or free apartments, she said.

Mobile phone records

The prosecutor said mobile phone records showed that El Mahroug, a Moroccan runaway, had spent the night at Berlusconi's home on at least seven occasions between February and May 2010.

"There is no doubt that Ruby had sex with the defendant, from whom she received benefits," Boccassini said, adding that Berlusconi was well aware she was a minor.

Berlusconi flatly denies the accusations. El Mahroug, who staged a dramatic protest outside the Milan court last month, denies being a prostitute or having had sex with Berlusconi.

Boccassini portrayed Ruby as a "shrewd, intelligent girl who like some young people of the latest generations has only one objective: that of making it in the world of show business and making easy money".

In a statement, Berlusconi called Boccassini's arguments "lies inspired by prejudice and hatred".

Last week, Berlusconi lost an appeal against a four-year sentence for tax fraud in connection with his Mediaset broadcasting empire. He has launched a second and final appeal against that sentence.

Berlusconi's legal difficulties have created growing tension within Prime Minister Enrico Letta's governing coalition, which includes Berlusconi's centre-right party.

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Source:
Reuters
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