Green Room

Berlusconi convicted in sex-for-hire scheme

posted at 11:31 am on June 24, 2013 by

And he’s going to do some serious time for it, too:

The BBC provided the background in an earlier report:

The prosecution in Milan says that women invited to Mr Berlusconi’s private residence for so-called “bunga-bunga” party evenings were part of a prostitution system set up for his personal sexual satisfaction.

The allegations focus specifically on his relationship with Moroccan girl Karima El Mahroug, known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer”, whom he is accused of paying for sex in 2010. She was 17 at the time. …

Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the Berlusconi trial during closing arguments last month that the young woman had lied when she denied having had sex with the former prime minister.

She said Ms Mahroug had received more than 4.5m euros (£3.8m) from Mr Berlusconi between October and December 2010.

Mr Berlusconi is also charged with abusing his power of office after calling a police station to press for the release of Ms Mahroug from custody when she was arrested in Milan in a separate petty theft case.

He has acknowledged the phone-call but says it was made as a favour to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose granddaughter he believed Ms Mahroug to be.

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bunga bunga

Mark1971 on June 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM

This is purely a political witch hunt.

He was accused of paying a woman who worked as a stripper, 17 at the time, for sex, however, both Berlusconi and El Mahroug denied having had sex. There is no evidence whatsoever that I’m aware of, establishing that they even had sex (which would be legal unless he paid for it, as the age of consent in Italy is only 14), let alone that he paid specifically for the sex. He did pay her to appear at his parties along with many other women, all of which is perfectly legal in Italy.

With no evidence, this case shouldn’t have even been charged, let alone brought to trial. And yet, it was, and he was convicted. This is why we have Constitutional rights in this country: to prevent mockeries of justice like this. I can only imagine what kind of criminal charges would have been brought against George W. Bush in that kind of system.

Even if you don’t agree with him, or even personally detest him, the idea that you can throw your political enemies in prison without any evidence whatsoever is a scary thing, no different from what might happen in North Korea.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

I suddenly have lots more faith in Italian courts. Berlusconi is a slimeball.

Kaltes, $3.8 mil euros and several phone calls count as “evidence”, albeit circumstantial.

alwaysfiredup on June 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Kaltes, $3.8 mil euros and several phone calls count as “evidence”, albeit circumstantial.

alwaysfiredup on June 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Him paying her 4.5 million euros (not 3.8), if true, isn’t evidence of anything. You can draw any conclusion your heart desires from that, including that she was blackmailing him, for example. That isn’t evidence that the two of them had sex, or that he paid for the sex, circumstantial or otherwise. That kind of evidence wouldn’t even be admissible in an American court.

Phone calls? What phone calls? There are no smoking gun phone calls in this case that support the allegations. The only phone call I see referenced in the many articles discussing this case is one where he called a police station to try to get her released on a petty theft charge. That has what exactly to do with paying a 17 year old for sex? Please.

There was no evidence. None. The flimsy nonsense that is getting pushed as justification for the conviction doesn’t prove that he did what he was accused of.

People like you, alwaysfiredup, are a blight on freedom and democracy. You think it is ok for people to have no rights as long as they aren’t sympathetic to you. Of course that means that if YOU ever got into trouble, all the liberals you probably piss off could easily do the exact same thing to you.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:14 PM

She said Ms Mahroug had received more than 4.5m euros (£3.8m) from Mr Berlusconi between October and December 2010.

Dang. That’s some expensive poontang companionship!

You know that this is the result they were really going for, though, right?

and barred from office

They don’t care a bit about his parties, they just want to make sure he can never be in office again.

GWB on June 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Berlusconi, who says prosecutors are out to destroy him politically, has faced at least 20 trials since entering politics in 1994. In some cases, he avoided definitive convictions because of the statute of limitations. He also benefited from an amnesty law and had one case dropped after his government decriminalized some white-collar crimes. He was also acquitted in at least five cases. By his own reckoning two years ago, he has faced 105 probes and trials, 2,500 court hearings and spent more than 300 million euros in legal fees.

You know what it says to me when they’ve gone after the guy 20 times and haven’t managed to convict him? It says that the cases were frivolous. I can’t imagine any US politician winning 5 acquittals and still having new cases filed against him.

I also find it hard to believe that the guy wasn’t keeping his nose clean despite having such an extensive legal war being actively waged against him for so long. It isn’t like with Blago where he was caught by surprise.

Of course, I tend to find it hard to believe that he has managed to beat so many cases only to get taken down by this one. He still has appeals. He will probably get the case overturned.

Like I said before, I can only imagine what the left in this country would have done to George W. Bush if this was permitted in the US.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

There was no evidence. None. The flimsy nonsense that is getting pushed as justification for the conviction doesn’t prove that he did what he was accused of.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:14 PM

That seems to be something you could say about a lot of trials in Italy lately. (I’m thinking of the earthquake scientists, and the college woman, sepcifically.)

GWB on June 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

This gives me some hope that Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) will also see justice for his foreign underage whoremongering.

UltimateBob on June 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

You know what it says to me when they’ve gone after the guy 20 times and haven’t managed to convict him? It says that the cases were frivolous.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Just to play Devil’s Advocate, it could also say he’s Al Capone or any of the Sicilian Mafia folks.

GWB on June 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM

They don’t care a bit about his parties, they just want to make sure he can never be in office again.

GWB on June 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Oh, they don’t want to JUST keep him out of office, they want prison time. Bad. It’s no different with the liberal hatred of Bush and other conservatives. Getting him put in prison sends a strong message to their political enemies that if you piss off the Italian Left, they will destroy your life.

Weren’t they doing the exact same thing to Sarah Palin when she was governor of Alaska, and that’s why she resigned? So she could dodge the massive lawfare campaign against her designed to crush her before she could be a threat as a presidential candidate? Why yes. How is it any different with Berlusconi? Oh, that’s right, because you don’t like his personal character since he threw sexy parties and that offends your socially conservative sensibilities.

And yes, Berlusconi is a conservative in Italian politics, and a very effective one. That is why he is target #1 for the Left over there.

If the US courts were like those in Italy, you can bet that Rush Limbaugh would be in prison right now, along with Sarah Palin and anyone else who dared to be an outspoken right-winger.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Just to play Devil’s Advocate, it could also say he’s Al Capone or any of the Sicilian Mafia folks.

GWB on June 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Howso? Al Capone wasn’t subjected to decades of lawfare and 20 trials. As far as I remember, Capone was only put on trial once, and was convicted.

This gives me some hope that Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) will also see justice for his foreign underage whoremongering.

UltimateBob on June 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Uhhh… you did see the ‘D’ by his name, right? How is the persecution of an outspoken conservative giving you hope that a liberal is going to be held accountable for anything?

The Menendez allegations are dead in the water. The FBI didn’t find any supporting evidence and everyone involved claims they were paid to lie by right wing operatives. At this point you can either choose to be partisan and cry coverup, or you can accept that there is no evidence from anyone to support the allegations.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Weren’t they doing the exact same thing to Sarah Palin when she was governor of Alaska, and that’s why she resigned?

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

No, Palin never did anything wrong. Berlusconi paid for sex (illegal) to an underage girl (illegal). When Palin gets hit with a sex scandal, you may use her as a comparison.

alwaysfiredup on June 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM

No, Palin never did anything wrong. Berlusconi paid for sex (illegal) to an underage girl (illegal). When Palin gets hit with a sex scandal, you may use her as a comparison.

alwaysfiredup on June 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Awesome circular logic, there.

By your logic, all the “sugar daddys” in the US should be in jail for prostitution, because, after all, they enjoy the company of younger women, and give those women money, and that’s all the “circumstantial evidence” you need to throw them all in jail.

Good luck with that.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 1:08 PM

El-Mahroug denied that Berlusconi had ever given her 5 million euros ($6.43 million). She said she told acquaintances and even her father that she was going to receive such a large sum “as a boast,” but that it was a lie to make her seem more important.

so there isn’t even any evidence of that he gave her any big payoff! LOL

if he paid her that much money, it would have been very easy for prosecutors to trace the money on her end. the fact that the prosecutors didn’t have any such evidence even though they could have easily gotten it if it was there, means that there was never any big payoff.

witch. hunt.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Actually, they got him on tax fraud, and that has survived the first appeal.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Related – Italy has a rather strange concept of the statute of limitations, probably inserted for the benefit of the Mafia. The clock doesn’t stop on indictment, or even conviction, but on the final appeal. In short, all one has to do is run out the clock and one gets away scot-free.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Actually, they got him on tax fraud, and that has survived the first appeal.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

And that’s not the 1st time they’ve got him on something, only to have it overturned on appeal.

Related – Italy has a rather strange concept of the statute of limitations, probably inserted for the benefit of the Mafia. The clock doesn’t stop on indictment, or even conviction, but on the final appeal. In short, all one has to do is run out the clock and one gets away scot-free.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Don’t you think it is a bit rude of you to assume that Italian law is pro-mafia and written for the benefit of criminals, just because it isn’t the exact same as ours?

You get 2 appeals. Berlusconi was convicted in the tax fraud case on October 26, 2012, and he has already completed one appeal by March, only 5 months later. That doesn’t sound like, “running the clock” to me, does it to you?

Italian statute of limitations is not tolled by a prosecution like American ones are. Thing is, as long as the statute of limitations in Italy budget for appeals (and they do) then the only real difference is that in Italy, prosecutors can’t just file cases and let them sit for years, and Italian appellate courts can’t dawdle and sit on cases either. This is a great safeguard that Americans lack. It isn’t “strange”, just different.

In America, many people sit in jail while awaiting trial because they can’t afford bail, only to be eventually found not guilty, and having already served years in jail despite no conviction. If I was an Italian, I’d think any system that produced those results is pretty messed up.

The guy has been brought to trial 20+ times and only been convicted, as of today, 4 times, two of which were set aside, and two of which are now pending. I don’t look at this and think the Italian system is rigged in favor of “the mafia”, I think “wow, how corrupt can a system be if it can be used to hammer a guy constantly for 20 years with a shockingly low conviction rate, the few convictions never hold up, and yet taxpayer money is still being wasted to file new cases against this guy?”

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Berlusconi is no angel but the freakin’ communists run every major city in Italia. Yes, even Milano. Keep rooting against him. The communists here are more corrupt than Silvio will ever be. They are a total disgrace!

Jayrae on June 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Jayrae on June 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

The current leftist party in Italy is the Democratic Party, which was created in 2007 with the merger of 8 leftist political parties. One of those was the “Democrats of the Left” which were a re-branded “Democratic Party of the Left” which was itself a re-branded “Communist Refoundation Party”. Wiki says “Several parties merged into the Democratic Party, however its bulk was formed by the Democrats of the Left (heirs of the Italian Communist Party) and Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy.” It goes a bit like this:

Communist Refoundation Party -> 1991
Democratic Party of the Left -> 1998
Democrats of the Left -> (2007 merger)
Democratic Party

Until 1998, the logo included the hammer and sickle. For those of you who think that the communists were just some fringe group, no. In Italy the communists were the BIGGEST leftist party since the end of world war II. In 1996 they won 29.7% of the vote, with Berlusconi’s party only taking 20.6%.

So yes when Jayrae says communists, the main leftist party which has been trying to take down Berlusconi does actually include re-branded communists as its biggest component.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Italian statute of limitations is not tolled by a prosecution like American ones are. Thing is, as long as the statute of limitations in Italy budget for appeals (and they do) then the only real difference is that in Italy, prosecutors can’t just file cases and let them sit for years, and Italian appellate courts can’t dawdle and sit on cases either. This is a great safeguard that Americans lack. It isn’t “strange”, just different.

kaltes on June 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Not exactly. The tax fraud case, because Berlusconi is making his final appeal, is most likely going to be dropped not because of any appellate decision, but because the statute of limitations will have run out.

I stand by the rest of my statement.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Berlusconi is no angel but the freakin’ communists run every major city in Italia. Yes, even Milano. Keep rooting against him. The communists here are more corrupt than Silvio will ever be. They are a total disgrace!

Jayrae on June 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

In short, there are no angels in Italia. If the center-right wanted to rule the way the Communists do, in a couple years, we’d be talking about the leftist PM doing perp walks.

The question is, do they have any more balls than our center-right party?

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Not exactly. The tax fraud case, because Berlusconi is making his final appeal, is most likely going to be dropped not because of any appellate decision, but because the statute of limitations will have run out.

Steve Eggleston on June 24, 2013 at 7:58 PM

The tax fraud case was only decided last October, and by May, only about 6 months later, the 1st appeal was already finished.

The statute of limitations doesn’t expire until July 2014, more than a year away, and media reports say the final appeal is expected to be complete by the end of this year. That court knows the deadline, and has plenty of time.

So you have no basis to say what is “most likely” to happen.

kaltes on June 25, 2013 at 1:08 PM