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Berlusconi blames foreign media for downfall ahead of trials

As he faces accusations of fraud, bribery, abuse of power and paying for sex with a minor, Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that his image “has been ruined by things that are absolutely untrue”.

AS HE FACES a series of trials on a range of charges, Silvio Berlusconi has insisted he has done “nothing wrong” – and has blamed the foreign press for his downfall.

Berlusconi, 75, announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Italy earlier this month after losing his parliamentary majority.

Today three people – Nicole Minetti (25), Lele Mora (55) and Emilio Fede (80) – will appear in court to face charges of recruiting prostitutes for Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties, the Telegraph reports.

As prime minister, Berlusconi could defer prosecution on a range of issues – due to laws he himself introduced during his time in office. However, now his tenure is at an end, he will have to face accusations of fraud, bribery and paying an underage girl for sex.

During an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper, Berlusconi was asked if he thought the lifestyle he had chosen was a “mistake”, to which he replied: “That’s all false – it’s something that the foreign press have all fallen for. It’s as if we have achieved nothing in the three years that we have been in power.

“It’s not like that at all – you just have to look at our foreign policy. My image has been ruined by things that are absolutely untrue,” he added.

Accusations of underage sex

This Wednesday, 18-year-old Karima el-Mahroug (aka “Ruby Rubacuori”) will appear in court relating to accusations that Berlusconi paid her to sleep with him when was 17 and still deemed a minor under Italian law. The former exotic dancer has denied that she had sexual relations with Berlusconi, but admitted that he gave her cash and jewellery.

The long-time Italian prime minister is also accused of abusing his power in relation to an incident in which Mahroug was arrested on suspicion of stealing. Berlusconi is accused of telling police that the girl, who is originally from Morocco, was related to the Egyptian president of the time, Hosni Mubarak, and pressured them to release her from custody.

He faces maximum jail sentence of three years if found guilty of having sex with a minor, and up to 12 years if convicted of abusing his position of power.

Accusations of fraud

Berlusconi is accused of reducing his tax liabilities by paying more than necessary to secure film rights for his TV company, Mediaset, and channeling the excess money back into his own accounts.

Accusations of bribery

Berlusconi is accused of paying David Mills, British lawyer and estranged husband of former Labour minister Tessa Jowell, €454,000 to lie in court on his behalf in 1997. Mills’ conviction was quashed earlier this year on a technicality, according to the country’s highest appeals court, reports the Guardian.

Because of the statute of limitations, it is thought unlikely that Berlusconi will be convicted in relation to this charge.

Also, later this month, a judge will decide if Berlusconi – who owns a significant proportion of the Italian media – should stand trial for leaking the transcript of a police wiretap to one of his publications, the Guardian reports.

Read more about Silvio Berlusconi>

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