Silvio Berlusconi threatens ‘total war’ over sex trial

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LONDON - Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to launch a ‘constitutional war’ against the country’s judiciary after prosecutors in Milan suggested the Italian Prime Minister should be put on trial immediately for sex crimes.

Berlusconi has accused them of breaking the law and going against parliament.

Soon afterwards his chief ally, Umberto Bossi of the Northern League, said the indictment request marked the start of a ‘total war’ between Italy’s judiciary and its legislature, reports the Guardian.

Berlusconi and his allies have argued that the case should have been dropped last week after a vote in the lower house of parliament, where they have a narrow majority.

The house adopted a resolution that meant, in effect, that the prosecutors had no right to pursue their investigation.

Milan’s chief prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati said his colleagues had asked for the Prime Minister to be put in the dock without a preliminary hearing because of the ‘obviousness of the evidence’ against him.

A judge, Cristina Di Censo, is expected to rule early next week on the prosecutors’ application. If it is granted, Berlusconi could be put on trial as early as April.

Normally, decisions on whether to indict a suspect accused of paying a juvenile prostitute are taken by a judge after a preliminary hearing.

But Bruti Liberati said his office had decided to follow a practice, already established in Milan and elsewhere in cases where one of two alleged related offences qualified for direct indictment of the accused, of applying the same fast-track procedure to both.

The decision was taken despite a warning from Berlusconi’s lawyers that they would argue it was unconstitutional.

The latest move piled yet more pressure on the media tycoon-turned-conservative politician, whose Freedom People movement was hit by a split last year.

Clearly enraged by the prosecutors’ determination to press ahead, Berlusconi told a press conference in Rome: “It’s a disgrace. It’s disgusting.”

“I wonder who is going to pay for this activity, whose only aim is subversive,” he added.

He then indicated that it would be the taxpayer who paid, because ‘I shall attempt to sue the state’.

The evidence laid before Di Censo ran to almost 800 pages. It included witness statements and wiretap transcripts suggesting the Prime Minister had invited dozens of women, including prostitutes, to his mansion near Milan for dinners that degenerated into debauches.

Berlusconi, who denies any wrongdoing, is also at risk from an investigation overseen by prosecutors in Naples.

On Wednesday, Police acting on their orders searched the Milan home of another woman claimed to have been a guest of the prime minister. According to leaks from the inquiry, she is suspected of links with the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra. (ANI)

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