Three female judges to decide Berlusconi’s fate

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ROME - The fate of Italy’s beleaguered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, facing trial over sex scandal, will be decided by three female judges.

Milan-based Judge Cristina Di Censo Tuesday granted prosecutors’ request to hold a fast-track trial to look into the charges against Berlusconi, which include having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power.

Giulia Turri, Orsola De Cristoforo and Carmen D’ Elia were named the judges who will preside over the April 6 trial, Xinhua reported.

The investigation that led to the trial stems from the exposure of Berlusconi’s relationship with a 17-year-old erotic dancer Karima el Mahrough, known by her stage name “Ruby”.

Berlusconi has been accused of using his influence to help Mahrough when she was arrested for theft in May last year.

Of the three judges, Turri oversaw a tax evasion probe into managers of internet giant Google and controversially ordered the main players in a drug investigation into Milan discos placed under house arrest.

Legal experts say that all three have been known as tough but fair jurists.

In January, Italy’s constitutional court stripped away key elements of a controversial law that gave Berlusconi and other government officials protection from prosecution.

But there are indications they will argue that the Milan court does not have the authority to try a sitting prime minister.

Berlusconi allies have been insisting that he is the victim of political vendetta.

“There is no crime and no victim,” Daniele Capezzone, a leading official in Berlusconi’s political coalition, was quoted as saying in the Italian press. “There is only a group of left wing activists who were beaten at the polls and who are trying to use the courts to defeat a movement they could not beat at the ballot box.”

According to pollsters, Italians have been growing weary of Berlusconi’s actions and they feared that they distracted the 74-year-old leader from his work.

On Sunday, a million people, most of them women, in Rome and other cities demonstrated against what they said was a kind of sexism that was increasingly ingrained in Italy and promoted by Berlusconi’s actions.

“Sunday was a rare instance when women, who are so often undervalued by Italian society, stood up against something they believed was demeaning them and demanded their voices be heard,” Simona Di Domenico, a sociologist and commentator with Rome Tre University, was quoted as saying.

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