Silvio Berlusconi's sex trial resumes

Premier Silvio Berlusconi's defence lawyers fought to get his sensational under-age prostitution trial moved out of the criminal courts today as the Italian leader battled for his political future after suffering a withering defeat in local elections nationwide.





Berlusconi's lawyer argued that the Italian leader was convinced that a Moroccan teen at the centre of the scandal was indeed the niece of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he tried to get her out of trouble last May, and therefore was acting within his official duties and should be judged by a parliamentary body.



The trial resumed after a two-month break and the morning after late-night celebrations marking the defeat of Berlusconi's candidates for mayor in his northern stronghold of Milan and in trash-plagued Naples. The results revealed a weakened Italian leader and heightened the impression that he is too distracted by his legal woes to govern effectively.



Berlusconi was in Romania on a two-day state visit, and did not attend the trial. But he was eager to combat any impression that the election defeats posed a political threat to his governing coalition.



Not only did Berlusconi's candidates lose in major races like Milan and Naples, so did candidates of his ally the Northern League in northern cities like Novara where they have thrived.



"I had a meeting to schedule my funeral, but I am too busy in the coming days so we'll have to delay it," Berlusconi joked with journalists in Bucharest.



Despite Berlusconi's famous self-deprecation, commentators today insisted that the election results showed a shift in the way Italians perceived Berlusconi's leadership.



"In 15 days, the face of Italy has changed. The transformation is deep and radical," political analyst Stefano Folli wrote in il Sole 24 Ore.



Berlusconi, who for a month campaigned that the races were a test of his government, has pledged that his government will continue after receiving assurances from the Northern League, and he has pledged to speed up fiscal reforms supported by the majority.



"It is all legitimate," Folli said, "but not very convincing."



In court, Berlusconi's lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, argued that Berlusconi's call to police to get a Moroccan teen out of custody was aimed at avoiding a diplomatic incident because he believed she was Mubarak's niece. The teen, Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, was picked up on suspicion of theft.



With the argument, Ghedini is trying to persuade the court that the Council of Ministers and not the Milan criminal court is the correct venue for the trial, since Berlusconi was acting in his official business. The calls to release the teen are the basis of a charge that Berlusconi used his influence to cover up criminal acts.



Prosecutors — and the judge who ordered a speedy trial without a preliminary hearing — have rejected the argument, saying he was trying to hide his relationship to the Moroccan teen, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters at his villa near Milan.



Berlusconi's defence submitted 16 formal objections on the second day of the trial, displaying to the court six stacks of documents ready to submit. They also are challenging the decision to skip the preliminary hearing, as well as the use of some wiretaps and the premier's private banking information in the investigation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...