Berlusconi's defence seeks acquittal

Defence lawyers for Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have demanded his acquittal as his long-running corruption trial has drawn to a close.

    Berlusconi: Prosecution demands are political provocations

    "We are here to demonstrate that there can be only one conclusion to this trial, the acquittal of Silvio Berlusconi because there are no facts," to back up the prosecution case, lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told a court in Milan on Friday. 

    He denied prosecution claims that Berlusconi's legal team had sought to hamper the trial. "The defence never wanted to delay this trial. All the impediments that we have had were legitimate, few and with good motivation," said Ghedini. 

    "The Milan prosecutor's office has so much affection for Silvio Berlusconi that they can't do without him," he said, alluding to more than a dozen cases brought by state prosecutors against Berlusconi over his business dealings. 

    Maximum sentence sought

    State Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini has sought the maximum eight-year jail sentence for the prime minister, as well as asking the court to impose a life ban on him holding public office. 

    "The Milan prosecutor's office has so much affection for Silvio
    Berlusconi that they can't do without him"


    Niccolo Ghedini,
    Berlusconi's lawyer

    Berlusconi, who was not in court on Friday, has described the prosecution demands as "political provocations". He has always claimed his legal travails are due to left-leaning "red judges" based in Milan who want to destroy him. 

    Friday's summing up by his defence team follows that of the prosecution two weeks ago when Boccassini told the court that Berlusconi bribed judges to block the 1985 sale of state-owned food company SME to his rival Carlo De Benedetti, boss of Italian food giant Buitoni. 

    Berlusconi "had magistrates from Rome on his payroll so they could put their good offices to work for his group", said Boccassini. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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