Silvio Berlusconi ‘should pay Italy €10m damages over bunga-bunga parties’

·2 min read
Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying 28 showgirls and associates to lie on his behalf during a trial - Ivan Romano/Getty Images
Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying 28 showgirls and associates to lie on his behalf during a trial - Ivan Romano/Getty Images

The Italian government is demanding more than €10 million in damages from Silvio Berlusconi for the “planetary discredit” he allegedly caused to the country's reputation with his world-famous bunga-bunga parties.

Prosecutors in Milan have also requested six years in jail for the former Italian prime minister, who allegedly paid guests to lie about the parties in the third instalment of the so-called "Ruby" affair - named after the underage exotic dancer at the centre of the case.

He was originally sentenced to seven years in prison in 2013 for paying for sex with the then 17-year-old Karima El-Mahroug. However, the verdict was overturned on appeal, after the judge said there was reasonable doubt he knew she was underage.

Even though the bunga-bunga scandal emerged more than a decade ago, when Mr Berlusconi was Italy's premier, legal proceedings are still ongoing. A verdict in the bribery case is expected this autumn.

'Planetary discredit'

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

Karima El-Mahroug gained notoriety for her key role in the 'bunga bunga' parties
Karima El-Mahroug gained notoriety for her key role in the 'bunga bunga' parties

On Thursday, the Italian government – which participates in the trial as a civil party and is represented by Gabriella Vanadia, a state lawyer – also took the stand.

Ms Vanadia asked that Mr Berlusconi and the other 28 defendants pay a total penalty of €10.5 million for corruption and false statements, as compensation for “the planetary discredit” caused to the reputation of the Italian state.

Ms Vanadia cited the “incomparable hype” created worldwide by Mr Berlusconi’s sex scandals and judicial woes, which were splashed on the front pages across the world.

Accusations against Silvio Berlusconi

The 85-year-old 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 teenager Ms El-Mahroug.

About 20 former guests of the parties at Mr Berlusconi's sumptuous mansion near Milan are also on trial, accused of accepting money and gifts from the media mogul in return for their silence.

In previous hearings, prosecutors also alleged that Mr Berlusconi paid for sex with underage showgirls and models “to liven up his evenings”. The billionaire businessman was described as “a sultan with a harem” who recruited the women as “sex slaves” to satisfy his needs, following his divorce from his wife.

Mr Berlusconi has always denied any wrongdoing and, even if convicted, has little chance of being jailed, due his health problems and restrictions against imprisoning the elderly.

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