Jun 27 2013

Bunga Bunga

So the short story is that Silvio Berlusconi was caught paying an underage prostitute who claimed to be the niece of Hosni Mubarak to ply her trade at some of his infamous “Bunga Bunga” sex parties.

This week he was finally convicted.

Italy’s Berlusconi convicted in sex-for-hire trial


Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013

A court in Milan on Monday handed down a seven-year jail sentence to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after finding him guilty of soliciting sex from a minor and abusing his position to cover up the affair.

The sentence by judges in charge of the so-called “bunga bunga” trial was one year more than what had been sought by the prosecution. A lifetime ban on holding public office also was imposed.

The three-time premier is a key backer of the grand coalition government led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta. Cicchitto said the PDL would continue backing the government, despite its anger at the ruling.

The center-left Democratic Party, the other key member of the ruling coalition, simply “took notice” and said it respected “the decisions that the judiciary takes autonomously, whatever they may be.”

Nicola Morra from the Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo said the opposition group would insist on holding a vote in the Senate to declare Berlusconi unfit for parliament, due to a conflict of interest stemming from his business holdings.

In a trial that lasted over two years, an all-female court heard that Berlusconi would hold night-time parties where women performed lap dance routines in a special “bunga bunga” room, dressed up as nuns, nurses or public figures such as U.S. President Barack Obama.

Berlusconi has other legal troubles, including a final appeal ruling expected by the end of the year on a tax fraud case that could force him to step down from parliament.

A judge is also expected to decide Thursday whether he should face trial on charges of bribing an opposition lawmaker. On the same day, Italy’s top appeals court is due to consider whether his firm Mediaset should pay a hefty compensation bill to a business rival.

Berlusconi Is Sentenced to Seven Years in Sex Case, but Can Still Appeal Verdict


Published: June 24, 2013

Mr. Berlusconi, 76, who is widely seen as remaining in politics to keep his parliamentary immunity and to protect his business interests, has vehemently denied the charges, accusing prosecutors of being on a left-wing witch hunt against him. His lawyers had tried to change the location of the trial, arguing that the Milanese judicial milieu was biased against Mr. Berlusconi, who has faced several trials in that city.

Mr. Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with Ms. Mahroug, who was under age at the time she attended parties at his villa. Though Ms. Mahroug denied that charge, she admitted that the prime minister had given her 7,000 euros, or about $9,100, the first time she visited his villa for a party in 2010. He was also convicted of abusing his office by calling the police to intervene when she was detained in May 2010 for theft. Mr. Berlusconi has said he called the police to avoid a diplomatic incident because he had been told that Ms. Mahroug was a niece of Hosni Mubarak, then the Egyptian president.

Monday’s ruling puts strains on the nearly two-month-old government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta, which unites the prime minister’s center-left Democratic Party with Mr. Berlusconi’s People of Liberty.

The coalition has so far withstood other moments of tension linked to the former prime minister’s legal woes. In May, an appeals trial upheld Mr. Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud in a film rights case involving his Mediaset television empire, a verdict that carries a four-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from holding public office. A final ruling in that case is expected later this year, though the ban would be upheld only after receiving parliamentary approval.

Will Berlusconi Be Bunga’d Up At Last?

By Tim Judah, Bloomberg News

Jun 25, 2013 2:58 PM ET

Italy’s former prime minister was due to meet today with incumbent Enrico Letta to discuss their fragile coalition government’s plans for tax cuts. No doubt Berlusconi’s conviction June 24 on charges of paying an underage prostitute for sex, for which he was given a seven-year prison sentence, will come up, too.

Berlusconi is also very unlikely to go to jail in the Mediaset SpA case, in which he was convicted in May of fraud and tax evasion. Lacking sex appeal, this prosecution has drawn less international attention but is probably more serious. Mediaset is Berlusconi’s multi-billion-euro media company. He was sentenced to four years in jail and given a five-year ban on holding public office in the case, which concerns the purchase of U.S. film and television rights. On May 8, he lost the first appeal. The second and final appeal must happen by next July or the case will expire due to a statute of limitations.

It is hard to predict how all of this will affect Italy’s ruling coalition. If Berlusconi’s conviction is finally upheld, then the Senate, in which Berlusconi sits, will have to vote to confirm his ban from office. The vote would be secret, so it is possible Berlusconi may threaten to bring down the government unless Letta instructs his Democratic Party senators to vote against the ban.

In the meantime, Beppe Grillo, founder of the maverick Five Star Movement, the largest party in Italy’s Parliament, is seeking to uphold a 1953 law that prevents anyone who has a concession from the state — such as a broadcasting license, which Berlusconi has — from holding public office. Indeed, had the law been enforced in the first place, Berlusconi could never have been a politician and a media mogul at the same time.

According to James Walston, a specialist in Italian politics, if Grillo succeeds in having this long-ignored law applied, then Letta and his party “will be forced to chose between consistency (they have accepted Berlusconi for 20 years) and legality and political expediency (they cannot be seen to be outflanked by Grillo).”

Berlusconi found guilty after case that cast spotlight on murky premiership

Lizzy Davies, The Guardian

Monday 24 June 2013

The more serious charge, however, was that in May of that year he exerted prime-ministerial pressure on police in Milan to release Mahroug from custody for fear she would reveal details of their liaisons. He admitted having made a call to police, but said he did so in the belief that her detention might cause a “diplomatic incident” because he believed her to be a relative of Hosni Mubarak, then the president of Egypt.

One person who will be less than delighted by the verdict is Enrico Letta, Italy’s current prime minister, who has the unenviable task of holding together a fraught grand coalition of his centre-left and Berlusconi’s centre-right. Although he occupies no ministry, Berlusconi still plays an influential role in national politics, and he has the power – as Letta is acutely aware – to bring it down by withdrawing his support and triggering new elections.

Silvio Berlusconi supporters stage ‘we are all whores’ protest over conviction

Lizzy Davies, The Guardian

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Silvio Berlusconi’s supporters have mounted a provocative protest against his conviction for paying an underage prostitute for sex and abusing his office to cover it up, amid concerns the verdict could destabilise the fragile coalition government.

As the centre-right leader prepared to meet Italy’s prime minister, Enrico Letta, a number of his angry allies descended on a central square in Rome on Tuesday to hold a protest under the banner of siamo tutti puttane, which translates as “we are all whores”. In advance of the demonstration, the organiser Giuliano Ferrara, editor of right-wing newspaper Il Foglio, filmed a video of himself applying lipstick.

Observers say Letta’s government, however, may feel its impact quickly, with the PdL portion of the coalition thought likely to make increasing demands on policies such as tax and judicial reform.

On Tuesday Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, chided bickering politicians and urged them to commit to continuity in government. “It hasn’t been two months since the formation of a government and already the daily talk is of next, imminent or fatal government crisis,” he said.

The political ramifications of the verdict look all but certain to rumble on. The Left Ecology Freedom party (SEL) called on Tuesday for the deputy foreign minister, Bruno Archi,, to resign following the inclusion of his name on a list of more than 30 defence witnesses the Milan judges said they thought should be investigated for suspected perjury during Berlusconi’s trial.

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