Silvio Berlusconi – former Prime Minister of Italy – is on trial for allegedly having sex with Karima el Mahroug (nicknamed “Ruby the Heart-stealer), a prostitute who prosecutors say was underage during the supposed 13 times she and Berlusconi had sex. In addition, prosecutors argue that the former prime minister abused his power to get her out of jail when she was held on suspicion of theft.
Berlusconi and El Mahroug insist that, contrary to the government’s allegations, El Mahroug never had sex with Berlusconi and that she lied to him about her age, telling him she was 24.
Imane Fadil, in attendance at one of Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” parties, testified that women danced in their underwear at the parties and that, despite the fact that Fadil wanted to leave the party, Berlusconi persuaded her to stay by showing her around his villa and giving her gifts.
Fadil also testified that the former prime minister had promised her a job at one of his television stations, but it never materialized.
Berlusconi acknowledged that he paid some of the trial witnesses but insisted that there was nothing improper about the payments. He said he had given the money to people who had been unfairly hurt because of their association with him.
Sessions in the Berlusconi trial are held a few times a month and are scheduled to continue until the end of May. If the former prime minister is convicted, he could be barred permanently from holding public office. Berlusconi, however, already resigned as Italy’s prime minister in November 2011.
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Right out of the gate, a question that cannot be ignored and is probably on everyone’s minds – why is the Prime Minister attending these “Bunga Bunga” parties in the first place? Not to mention, isn’t it all too often and always so convenient for the accused in cases such as these to place the blame on the prostitutes, arguing that they were at fault for lying about their age? I also find it very suspicious that Berlusconi gave money to some of the witnesses because he felt they were “unfairly hurt because of their association with [Berlusconi].” Apparently, he did not give enough money to Imane Fadil, as she testified that Berlusconi was a fan of these parties and also of making false promises. I agree with the potential consequences to be imposed should Berlusconi be convicted. As we have seen with governors and public officials in the United States, such behavior calls for resignation, a thorough investigation, and a permanent smear on these officials’ records.
If Berlusconi is convicted, will he get any punishment other than being barred permanently from holding public office? If not, this punishment seems extremely lax and unfair, assuming that other sex offenders probably get must stiffer punishments. Additionally, I hope that Berlusconi is afforded a fair trial in that he receives the same treatment as would anyone who is accused of having sex with an underage prostitute. Likewise, I don’t see how paying any of the trial witnesses can possibly be not be considered improper. Whether he hurt them or not, a criminal defendant should not be paying witnesses during his trial. This seems to be a clear indication of impropriety.
Additionally, I hope that Berlusconi is afforded a fair trial in that he receives the same treatment as would anyone who is accused of having sex with an underage prostitute.