Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sent to trial on Friday for allegedly bribing a businessman to lie about allegations that he procured prostitutes for parties a decade ago.
Prosecutors claim that Berlusconi paid Gianpaolo Tarantini 500,000 euros in cash, gave him work and provided him with lawyers to say that the politician did not know that women were being paid to attend parties at his residence. At the time, Berlusconi was president of the Italian Government.
The scandal of the so-called “bunga-bunga parties” with prostitutes held in Berlusconi homes in Rome and Sardinia came to light in 2009 prompting the Bari Prosecutor’s Office to initiate an investigation into alleged inducement to prostitution.
Tarantini was named as the person in charge of recruiting the girls who attended the parties, leading to his arrest as well that of his wife Lavitola before being released.
Tarantini had already been convicted in 2015 along with three other people for the crime of facilitating prostitution with the aim of flattering Berlusconi and winning lucrative public contracts.
Berlusconi is also due in court next week for the opening of a case in which he is accused of corrupting witnesses and providing false testimony in one of the proceedings related to the “Ruby case”.
According to the prosecution, the leader of Forza Italia paid up to 157,000 euros to the singer Mariano Apicella, who participated in his parties, to change his version in the “Ruby” case which got its name from the young Moroccan Karima el Mahroug, with whom Berlusconi was accused of having sex when she was a minor.
Berlusconi was acquitted of these charges on the grounds that he was unaware of the girl’s age.
In 2013, after a sentence of four years in prison for tax fraud, related to his television company Mediaset was commuted to a year of community services, Berlusconi was banned from holding public office and was removed from his seat in parliament.
Berlusconi, who can now run for election, has always denied any wrongdoing in the case and has repeatedly accused the prosecution of carrying out a witch hunt against him.