Berlusconi accused of paying off witnesses in prostitution trial


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The Independent Online

An Italian court accused ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday of tampering with evidence by bribing witnesses during a trial related to his infamous “bunga bunga” parties.

The accusation, just two days after the Italian Senate expelled Berlusconi from Parliament over his tax fraud conviction, came in a written judgement from the trial of three associates who are charged with obtaining prostitutes for the 77-year-old billionaire.

Citing testimony and telephone wiretaps, the Milan court said Mr Berlusconi gathered about a dozen young women at his Milan mansion on January 15, 2011 to meet his lawyers after the women’s homes were searched as part of a police investigation into the parties.

From then on, the judges wrote, these women began receiving 2, 500 euros (£2,080) a month from Mr Berlusconi to give false evidence. The women offered unusually identical testimony in court, denying that the parties had sexual overtones.

The court said the evidence against Berlusconi and the others implicated had been sent to prosecutors who are expected to open a new investigation into the case.

Berlusconi denied any wrongdoing at his own trial and is currently appealing against his conviction of paying for sex with a minor.

Additional reporting by AP