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Berlusconi to Stand Immediate Trial

by de Gondi Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:06:22 AM EST

The judge for the preliminary investigation, Cristina Di Censo, has just ruled that Silvio Berlusconi is to go on trial immediately on charges of abuse of power for personal interests and prostitution with minors. The judge found that the evidence gathered, practically in flagrancy for the charge of concussion, warranted an immediate trial. The defense had argued that Milan was not the proper venue for the trial since Berlusconi had committed the alleged crime in the quality of Council President, thus warranting judgement by the Tribune of Ministers. Judge Di Censo accepted the Milan Procura's argument that the pressure that Berlusconi had sought to exert, successfully, on the police to release an underage prostitute, detained on suspicion of theft, was an abuse of the notoriety of his position as Council President to obtain an illegal advantage. In this sense Berlusconi had not committed an illegal act within his state functions which would have justified proceedings before the Tribune of Ministers.

The subsequent charge of frequenting underage prostitutes stems from this initial investigation. Contrary to press reports, neither Berlusconi nor his residences were ever put under surveillance. According to the so-called "Boato law" members of parliament and the government cannot be wiretapped or be object of search warrants without prior consent from parliament. A law that is greatly at odds with common sense.

The trial date is set for April 6th.

frontpaged with minor edit - Nomad


The trial will be presided by three judges chosen by a system of lots that awarded the trial to the Fourth Criminal Section of the Milan Tribune. Curiously, three women were chosen, the judges Carmen D'Elia, Orsola De Cristofaro and Giulia Turri. Perhaps a fitting rejoinder to the massive response to grassroots women organizations this last Sunday.

On the political scene one might expect a clamorous defection from the Lega Nord which would spell the end of Berlusconi's political career. The Lega Nord, for all its professed solidarity, may soon realize that their program has no future with Berlusconi. Further the Lega Nord's constituency has taken to strongly criticizing the alliance with Berlusconi.

In the eventuality that Berlusconi were to be condemned he would lose his civic rights, above all his right to stand for office.

This is but one of the four trials awaiting Berlusconi in the months to come.

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NYT || Berlusconi to Face Trial in Prostitution Case

ROME -- A Milan judge on Tuesday ordered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to stand trial in April on charges of paying an underage nightclub dancer for sex and abusing his office to help release her from police custody when she was detained for theft, Italian news media reported.
Enlarge This Image
Tony Gentile/Reuters

The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Feb. 9 in Rome.

The fast-track trial is expected to begin on April 6, according to news reports citing a statement by the Milan judge.

Mr. Berlusconi denies wrongdoing. After the decision on Tuesday, he did not appear at a scheduled news conference in Sicily, where Italy is seeking to stem a flow of more than 5,000 illegal immigrants from Tunisia.

Ever since prosecutors announced last week they would call for an expedited trial, saying they had enough evidence to waive preliminary hearings, Mr. Berlusconi has fought back in the media, accusing the judiciary of a "moral coup" against his leadership.

[...]

The trial would not be Mr. Berlusconi's first. Over the years, he has emerged largely unscathed from a dizzying list of legal troubles, including charges of corruption, tax evasion and bribing judges. In each case, he was either acquitted on appeal or the statute of limitations in the cases ran out.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 06:57:38 AM EST
The trial would not be Mr. Berlusconi's first. Over the years, he has emerged largely unscathed from a dizzying list of legal troubles, including charges of corruption, tax evasion and bribing judges. In each case, he was either acquitted on appeal or the statute of limitations in the cases ran out.

The author neglects to mention that in one case acquittal was granted on the dubious grounds of good behavior since he had got himself elected Council President. As for the Statute of Limitations the author further neglects that Berlusconi had ad personam laws passed that greatly reduced the statute of limitations for his alleged crimes and greatly lengthened trials.  In other cases he passed a law abolishing the crime.

In all rulings the facts were asserted as corresponding to truth. This resulted in such curious sentences as, "The facts have been found to be true, but they no longer constitute a crime." In other cases, fall guys such as Cesare Previti took the rap. The present case of Mills, definitively condemned for false testimony, for which Berlusconi must stand trial concerns a case in which Mills' testimony effectively let Berlusconi off the hook in a trial. This is of course one of those cases Ms. Donadio neglects to mention.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 07:10:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT || Berlusconi to stand trial on sex charges

An Italian judge on Tuesday ordered Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, to stand trial on charges that he paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl and then tried to cover it up.

Cristina di Censo, Milan examining judge, said the proceedings would start on April 6, after prosecutors asked for an immediate trial.

Mr Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan nightclub dancer known as "Ruby" who is at the centre of the accusations, deny the prostitution allegations.

Mr Berlusconi also denies pressing a Milan police chief to release her from detention last May by explaining he thought she was the niece of Hosni Mubarak, then president of Egypt.

The prime minister, who learnt last week that he was to face the resumption of two trials on charges of tax fraud and corruption involving his business empire, has lashed out at the "disgusting disgrace" of "subversive" prosecutors, whom he accused of wrecking Italy's standing abroad.

[...]

In spite of the mounting pressure on Mr Berlusconi and his slim majority in parliament, Italy's opposition has proved incapable of forcing the prime minister to resign but has managed to block key legislation.

Mr Berlusconi reacted angrily on Monday to widespread protests staged against him at the weekend mobilised by women campaigners, saying the women should be "ashamed" of themselves.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 07:15:38 AM EST
de Gondi:
saying the women should be "ashamed" of themselves.

how dare they question the phallus-in-chief?

could italy be about to take the biggest shit in its history?

3 women judges... oh man. i hope they let us know how they really feel, there aren't too many more trying tests of a nation's democracy than its judiciary taking down its richest and most powerful enemy from pole position.

italy will be able to hold its head high if this goes through... in its way it's as epic as mubarak's come-uppance, to whom b. bears an uncannily cartoon-sinister resemblance, least of which due to a follicular collision with a tar pit.

his business empire should be dismantled and its riches redistributed to the ripped off populace.

politically seismic times for the bel paese.

meanwhile san remo churns out its vapid filler, framed by a nauseating ad from ENI.

aaargh

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 04:07:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happens if he refuses to appear or claims impediment?

Will we have the extraordinary situation of a sitting Prime Minister being tried in absentia?

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 07:34:22 AM EST
It depends on how he proceeds. If he officialises his refusal to appear, the judge can rule that the trial be held with the defendant in contumacia. If he just brays through the press, he will just be liable to prove he was unable to attend the hearing if he doesn't show up, in which case the judge will order that his absence be verified. If he persists in not appearing without a valid "impediment" the judges may eventually rule that the trial be held in contumacia.

This is one of the main technicalities in following Berlusconi's trials. He has almost never appeared in court through the use of impediments to prolong his trials indefinitely, all the while fabricated laws or decrees to reduce the statutes of limitations or, as below, changing the cards on the table to invalidate the trial(s).

If the trial is held in contumacia it can no longer be blocked by impediments of the defendant, thus depriving Berlusconi of a precious arm to drag out the trial.

This charade has been carried on the past two decades by Berlusconi or his cohorts- Cesare Previti, above all- with varying success in quashing trials.

Berlusconi may also enter a plea bargain within thirty days with the automatic reduction of his sentence by one-third. This tactic might permit him to continue to run for office. It is unlikely he will use this expedient as he is prone to wage war to get his way.

There have been several laws proposed by his mignons since October to quash this impending trial. One law simply proposed to change the jurisdictions for sexual crimes making it a crime subject to local authority. In this hypothesis the charges of statutory rape would have been under the jurisdiction of Monza rather than Milan. I really see no advantage in this solution other than buying time.

Another proposed bill would make it difficult, if not impossible, for prosecutors to challenge a law in court to force a ruling by the supreme court. Since most of Berlusconi's ad personam laws are anti-constitutional, they get shot down. However in the meantime they have assorted their effects.

His situation is difficult as far as decrees go as the President of the Republic has made it clear he will not sign ad personam laws again. Berlusconi uses decrees to create irrevocable situations. A decree has a short life if not converted into law but its effects remain regardless.

This afternoon Berlusconi has put a vote of confidence on an omnibus law in the Senate. It no doubt contains articles that are designed to through a wrench into the present situation. The bill will have no problem passing the Senate. However, if it must go through the House, it will be very risky. I'll let you know when there is more information on this.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:32:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what chance this will finally drive a stake through the old vampires heart?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian intrigues me :

Prosecutors maintain that the prime minister, who denies any wrongdoing, paid Mahroug, who adopted the nickname "Ruby Heartstealer", for sexual services while she was still 17. Berlusconi's lawyers are expected to argue she is older than indicated on official documents.

Anyone who is in doubt about the age of a prospective sexual partner would be expected to consult their official documents.

... so his defense is that he knew her documents were false?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 07:47:30 AM EST
I think we're letting ourselves be distracted by the morbid business of the statutory rape charges.

The prosecutors would do well to go for the charges of abuse of office in pressuring the Milan police to release somebody from custody.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 08:12:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The charges of abuse of power for personal interests carries a sentence of four to twelve years. Statutory rape of an underage prostitute carries a term of six months to three years. The second charge is subordinate to the first and serves to aggravate the defendant's position.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This contention may have been discussed in the Di Censo ruling. Effectively, in one police document there was a minor error on the year of her birth. However, this is grasping at straws. It was a bona fide error that incidently has nothing to do with Berlusconi's defense. I think this will likely come up in the independant trial against Emilio Fede, Nicole Minetti and Lele Mora. They were running the show and were in a position to know how old Ruby was.

They were well aware of Berlusconi's tastes.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:39:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile in Milan... « Joe Saward's Grand Prix Blog
Berlusconi claims that he made the phone call to avoid a diplomatic incident as he thought she was a niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 11:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If so, why didn't he have the young lady taken into custody by an Egyptian diplomat rather than his girl friend, Nicole Minetti, who immediately turned Ruby over to a prostitute under the curious eyes of the police?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 11:07:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because he's a mendacious misogynistic toad who thinks the law doesn't apply to him and who has spent his entire life lying professionally and subverting justice and decency?

Just guessing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 11:10:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you still commenting on Berlusconi, or did the conversation switch to Rupert Murdoch and Newt Gingrich?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 01:49:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing the Model candidates he has suggested for parliament, perhaps he thought she was the Egyptian Ambassador :)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 11:19:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, thought she way Mubarak's niece AND the Egyptian Ambassador, sent to offer him her services. This could not possibly be offensive to Egyptians or the Mubarak family.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 01:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italian intelligence services working as well as usual.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 11:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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