Rome, Feb 10 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has vowed to sue the state over “unfounded” and “shameful” allegations by “subversive” prosecutors who want to put him on trial for allegedly paying an underage prostitute for sex and abuse of office.
“In the end, the state will pay, as usual. I will sue the state, given that there is no responsibility on behalf of the magistrates,” said the 74-year-old premier Wednesday.
“But the magistrates will have to take responsibility. We are going to make changes to ensure they do,” he told reporters in Rome.
His fury followed a formal request by Milan prosecutors Wednesday to try him immediately for paying teenage Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug for sex when she was 17 and pressuring police to release her from custody in May 2010 in May.
“Such trials are farcical and are based on completely unfounded accusations,” he said. “These prosecutors have a subversive aim.”
“This is disgusting and shameful,” Berlusconi added.
The prosecutors have submitted to a judge 782 pages of wiretap transcripts and other documents backing their claims that Berlusconi paid El Mahroug and “numerous” young women for sex. It is the seventh sex scandal to hit him.
Although having sex with prostitutes is not an offence in Italy, using an underage prostitute is a crime which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
Abuse of office is a more serious offence which is punishable by up to 12 years in jail.
“Such dossiers violate the law and undermine the parliament and the Milan prosecutors’ office has no authority in the case.
“There was no abuse of office and such a claim is laughable,” he said.
“These are spurious claims which regrettably sully Italy and offend its dignity,” he fumed. “But I’m not worried about me. I am here to serve the country,” he claimed.
Berlusconi was reported to be planning a summit with his ruling People of Freedom party’s leadership to ponder a line of defence. Berlusconi denies having paid El Mahroug for sex and denies wrongdoing in the case.
The Milan judge has five days to decide if is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
If the judge decides to commit Berlusconi to trial, it will be the fourth the premier is currently facing after Italy’s constitutional court last month overturned a law granting him and senior government members immunity from prosecution.
The court ruled that individual judges should be allowed to decide if a prime minister should be tried while in office. Soon after the ruling, a Milan court announced that Berlusconi’s trial for tax fraud and false accounting would resume in Milan Feb 28.
Two other trials could also re-start against the billionaire tycoon – for bribery and for tax fraud and embezzlement involving his Mediaset film and broadcasting empire.
Berlusconi denies all wrongdoing and claims he is being persecuted by a cabal of leftist judges.