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Berlusconi aides found guilty on sex charges

Italian court finds three of former PM's associates guilty of procuring prostitutes for racy parties held at his villas.

Last Modified: 19 Jul 2013 18:36
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Showgirl-turned-politician Nicole Minetti was given a five-year ban on holding public office [Reuters]

An Italian court has found three of Silvio Berlusconi's associates guilty of procuring prostitutes for racy parties held at the former Italian prime minister's villas.

Failed showbusiness agent Lele Mora and television host Emilio Fede were sentenced to seven years each in jail, while showgirl-turned-politician Nicole Minetti was given five years behind bars.

They carried out a sort of exam of the capacities of the young women and then injected them into the circuit of soirees

Antonio Sangermano, prosecutor

The Milan court on Friday banned Moro and Fede for life from holding public office and working with minors, while Minetti was given a five-year ban on holding public office.

All three were ordered to pay court costs.

Among the girls allegedly recruited by the trio for parties at billionaire Berlusconi's villas was Moroccan-born Karima El-Mahroug, a then 17-year-old exotic dancer nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer".

Berlusconi was sentenced in a separate trial in June to seven years in jail for paying for sex with Ruby and abusing his power to hide the liaison though the punishment was suspended on appeal.

In his summing up speech in May, prosecutor Pietro Forno said the three had arranged "orgies" at Berlusconi's mansion and cited the tycoon's ex-wife Veronica Lario, who accused her then husband of consorting with "young virgins".

His colleague Antonio Sangermano said the three were like "tasters of fine wine" and had obtained financial advantages from Berlusconi because "they know all the secrets" of those nights.

"They carried out a sort of exam of the capacities of the young women and then injected them into the circuit of soirees," Sangermano said. Minetti was also an active participant and "performed sexual acts for money," he said.

All three denied the charges, insisting that while they may have invited girls to the premier's Milan villas, it was to attend nothing more than elegant dinner parties, as Berlusconi had said before.

Friday's verdict adds to Berlusconi's legal woes and complicates matters for Prime Minister Enrico Letta's fragile left-right coalition, whose survival depends on Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.

365

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