Italian judges have thrown out a bribery case against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, because it expired under the statute of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi was accused of paying his former British tax lawyer, David Mills, to lie in court to protect his interests.
The case dates back to the 1990’s.
Silvio Berlusconi, who denies wrongdoing, says this and other court cases against him are all part of a politically-motivated smear campaign.
Italian judges have thrown out a bribery case against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, because it expired under the statute of limitations
He is on trial separately on charges of tax fraud and sex with an under-age prostitute.
The prosecution alleged David Mills was given $600,000 to lie in court about Silvio Berlusconi’s business interests.
David Mills, who was not on trial, denies that any such payment was made.
In December David Mills told a court he was “deeply ashamed” for falsely claiming that Silvio Berlusconi had given him $600,000.
David Mills said the money had actually come from an associate he had not wanted to admit dealing with.
Of the other three cases Silvio Berlusconi still faces, potentially the most damaging for the former Italian leader involves Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby.
Prosecutors allege Karima El Mahroug attended several parties at Silvio Berlusconi’s residence last year and was paid for sex while she was still 17, an offence according to Italian law. Both she and the prime minister deny having sex. She says she did receive 7,000 Euros, but it was as a gift after a party.
Silvio Berlusconi is at the centre of a new controversy after claims emerged he had insulted Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Silvio Berlusconi, the 74 year-old Italian prime minister is now accused of making insulting comments about Angela Merkel during a telephone conversation with a newspaper editor.
The vulgar remarks referred to sex and Angela Merkel’s physique and were picked up by investigators probing a 500,000 euro blackmail plot against Silvio Berlusconi.
Silvio Berlusconi is accused of making insulting comments about Angela Merkel during a telephone conversation with a newspaper editor
It has been suggested that, in a phone call in early July, Silvio Berlusconi referred to 57-year-old Angela Merkel as “an un****able fat b***”.
Silvio Berlusconi was also taped while branding his own country “s**t” and claimed the judiciary were out to get him during the phone call with Valter Lavitola, which took place in early July.
Fragments of the taped conversation have been circulating in Italian newspapers for days. Though the alleged comment has not been published, it has been posted on a number of websites.
Today the scandal moved to Germany where the Bild newspaper ran the story under the headline “Did Berlusconi insult our Chancellor Merkel?”.
Silvio Berlusconi’ spokesman said they had no comment to make.
Il Giornale, the newspaper owned by Berlusconi family, described the allegation as “gossip”.
This is not the first time when Silvio Berlusconi is accused of insulting the German Chancellor though the previous instances have been relatively trivial.
Two years ago, he kept Angela Merkel waiting at an official summit while he chatted on his mobile telephone.
In 2008, Silvio Berlusconi “jumped” out at her from behind a statute and showed “peek a boo” when Merkel arrived in Italy for an official visit.
The taped phone calls are part of an investigation into allegations that Valter Lavitola, businessman Giampaolo Tarantini and his wife Angela Devenuto had blackmailed Silvio Berlusconi.
It is claimed Silvio Berlusconi had paid hush money to all three over allegations about his dealings with escort girls who attended so-called “bunga bunga” parties at his official residences.
Giampaolo Tarantini is accused of bringing the women to events at Palazzo Grazioli in Rome. Prosecutors allege he was paid at least 500,000 euro to tell officials Silvio Berlusconi had no idea that they were escort girls.
One of the women was Patrizia D’Addario who claimed she was paid to spend the night with the Italian prime minister.
Tarantini is also under investigation for supplying cocaine to high-profile clients in parties held on the Italian island of Sardinia – where Silvio Berlusconi has a home.
Ten days ago Berlusconi confirmed he had paid the money but insisted had “merely been helping out someone who was going through a rough time.”
At the beginning of this week Silvio Berlusconi had been due to meet prosecutors to discuss the blackmail but he pulled out at the last minute insisting he had to meet European Union chiefs in Brussels and Strasbourg to reassure them Italy was tackling its financial crisis.
Prosecutors have told him he must present himself at their office in Naples before Sunday at 8pm or they will declare him a hostile witness and call in police to forcibly bring him in for questioning.
Giampaolo Tarantini and Angela Devenuto were arrested earlier this month in their luxury apartment in Rome as part of the probe and they are now in custody. Valter Lavitola is said to be in Brazil.
Silvio Berlusconi, who is not under investigation but considered a victim, is currently involved in four trials. One of the trials is for having sex with an underage prostitute.
It was reported that Silvio Berlusconi have paid Moroccan born belly dancer Karima El Mahroug to spend the night at his villa near Milan when she was just 17 and therefore still a minor under Italian law.
Silvio Berlusconi is also said to have paid 32 other women for sexual favors with cash, jewellery and cars to attend the parties and the trial is set to resume in Milan in October.
As a reaction to the investigations into his alleged crimes and misdemeanors, Silvio Berlusconi said in July he wanted to leave Italy, which he described as a “shitty country” that “sickened” him.
Silvio Berlusconi‘s astonishing remarks are contained in the transcript of a telephone conversation secretly recorded by police investigating claims he was being blackmailed about his sex life.
Early in the morning on Thursday, police descended to a flat near Via Veneto, one of Rome’s most expensive streets, to arrest Giampaolo Tarantini, a central figure in a scandal that threatened to bring down the Italian PM two years ago.
Giampaolo Tarantini’s wife, Angela Devenuto, was also taken into custody and a search launched for a third person. The arrest warrant shows that the three are accused of extorting at least €500,000 (about $700,000) “as well as other benefits of economic significance”. Silvio Berlusconi has admitted paying the couple, but said he did so voluntarily.
Silvio Berlusconi said in July he wanted to leave Italy, which he described as a "shitty" country that "sickened" him
Two years ago, Giampaolo Tarantini, a businessman from Bari in southern Italy, said he supplied 30 women for parties at the Silvio Berlusconi’s Roman palazzo. He told police at least six women spent the night there.
According to the judicial arrest warrant issued on Thursday, a third person – Valter Lavitola, the editor of a small newspaper – maintained direct contact with Silvio Berlusconi and received the cash in monthly installments from the prime minister’s personal secretary.
It was in a phone conversation with Valter Lavitola late on 13 July that Silvio Berlusconi was said by the judge to have erupted in anger.
“They can say about me that I screw. It’s the only thing they can say about me. Is that clear?” he said to the man allegedly blackmailing him.
“They can put listening devices where they like. They can tap my telephone calls. I don’t give a f**k. I … In a few months, I’m getting out to mind my own f***ing business, from somewhere else, and so I’m leaving this shitty country of which I’m sickened.”
The Italian prime minister was speaking 4 days after a court in Milan dealt him the heaviest blow he has suffered in his long and intensely controversial business career. The court ruled that the firm at the core of his group of companies should pay €560 million to his bitterest commercial rival as compensation for bribing a judge in order to win control of Mondadori, Italy’s biggest publisher.
The conversation took place at the height of a crisis on the financial markets, and in the midst of frantic efforts in parliament to approve a package of measures designed to eliminate Italy’s budget deficit.
Silvio Berlusconi’s public silence during this period attracted comment at the time, particularly in the financial media.
The sex scandal at the origin of the latest allegations was one of several involving Silvio Berlusconi in the past three years. The prime minister is on trial in Milan charged with paying an underage prostitute and then using his position to cover up the alleged offence, but that case is not related to the one that has now come back to haunt him.
Details of the latest investigation were leaked last month in a news magazine belonging to Berlusconi. The magazine, Panorama, claimed the prosecutors believed Giampaolo Tarantini was being paid to stop him contradicting Silvio Berlusconi’s claim that he was unaware that some of the women who visited his home were prostitutes.
According to Panorama, Tarantini had repeatedly confirmed in wiretapped conversations that Silvio Berlusconi was indeed oblivious of the payments the women were receiving.
Silvio Berlusconi, 75, has made much over the years of his talents as a playboy and has insisted he would never pay for sex.
Panorama claimed the main reason Silvio Berlusconi was passing money to Tarantini was to ensure he did a deal with the prosecutors to avoid a trial and the disclosure of “telephone wiretaps held to be embarrassing”. The Italian prime minister told the magazine:
“I helped someone and a family with children who found themselves and continue to find themselves in very serious financial difficulty. I didn’t do anything illegal. I limited myself to helping a desperate man without asking for anything in exchange. That’s the way I am and nothing will change that.”