Berlusconi remanded for trial – again

Milan prosecutors fix new trial date.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Milanese media magnate and three times former prime minister, is to stand trial on 9 May in Milan in yet another branch of the proceedings arising out of the infamous “bunga bunga” parties held in his villa at Arcore in Monza province.

This time he is charged, along with four young women, with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

While the main so-called “Ruby-ter” trial of Berlusconi and 23 others continues, this new break-away branch is concerned solely with the charge that the politician and disgraced former senator paid witnesses to make false testimony about the innocence and decorum of the parties.

Assistant prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano told the court that there was “concrete proof” of Berlusconi’s crime, when applying for the new trial to be tabled – an argument which may have prompted the judge to agree to open the new proceedings.

Berlusconi had already been found guilty of paying an underage exotic dancer, the “Ruby” after whom the trial has been named, for sex.  But the sentence was overturned when he persuaded judges that he had been unaware of the girl’s age at the time.

Stripped of his rank of senator in 2013 after being found guilty of tax fraud, Berlusconi was also excluded from holding public office until 2019.  He has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against this sentence, and is awaiting the result of the appeal, expected this summer.  Meanwhile, confident of having the sentence overturned, he continued to attach his name to the campaign of his Forza Italia party in the general election held this month, even though his cannot yet personally return to parliament.