Europe

Italy government asks for reputational damage in Berlusconi's sex trial

Lawyer representing state asks for €10.5M for 'planetary discredit' caused by ex-premier's sex scandals

Giada Zampano   | 26.05.2022
Italy government asks for reputational damage in Berlusconi's sex trial

ROME

Italy’s former premier Silvio Berlusconi faces the threat of a criminal penalty in a trial over his notorious "bunga-bunga" parties, but also risks paying millions of euros in damages for the “planetary discredit” he allegedly caused to the Italian government with his sex scandals.

As a Milan bribery trial focuses on witnesses paid to lie about Berlusconi's sex parties, Italian prosecutors Wednesday requested a jail term of six years for the 85-year-old media mogul and a five-year term for Karima El Mahroug – the belly dancer known as "Ruby The Heartstealer" – who was at the center of the underage prostitution case.

Although the “bunga bunga” scandal emerged more than a decade ago, when Berlusconi was Italy's leader, legal proceedings are still ongoing and a verdict in the bribery case is expected this autumn.

Berlusconi is accused of paying 28 showgirls and associates to lie on his behalf during an earlier trial, when he was charged with paying for sex with then underage El Mahroug.

He was acquitted in the original trial because judges ruled he could not have known that the girl was only 17 when he paid for sex with her.

Prosecutors have asked the Milan court to seize 5 million euros from the Moroccan-Italian showgirl, and more than 10 million euros from Berlusconi's assets.

On Thursday, the Italian government – which participates in the trial as a civil party and is represented by state lawyer Gabriella Vanadia – also took the stand. Vanadia asked that Berlusconi and the other 28 defendants pay a total penalty of 10.5 million euros for corruption and false statements, as compensation for “the planetary discredit” caused to the reputation of the Italian state.

Vanadia cited the “incomparable hype” created worldwide by Berlusconi’s sex scandals and judicial woes, which were splashed on the front pages of international media as he was in charge of leading Italy.

In previous hearings, prosecutors also described the billionaire businessman as “a sultan with a harem” who recruited the women as “sex slaves” to satisfy his needs following his divorce from his wife.

Berlusconi always denied any wrongdoing and even if convicted has little chance of being jailed due to his serious health problems and laws that restrict imprisoning the elderly.

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