Rome (AFP) – Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is to go on trial for allegedly paying a witness to give false testimony about his notoriously hedonistic parties.
A judge in southern city Bari on Friday set the first hearing in the witness tampering trial for February 4, 2019.
The case dates back to 2008-2009 when young and ambitious businessman Giampolo Tarantini brought escort girls to parties at Berlusconi’s residences in Rome and Sardinia.
Tarantini is currently appealing an eight-year sentence for procuring prostitutes for Berlusconi.
The billionaire former premier is accused of having paid Tarantini to keep quiet about the more salacious details of his parties.
Prosecutors say that Berlusconi provided Tarantini with “hundreds of thousands of euros, legal assistance and a job” so that he would lie in court.
Berlusconi is already being investigated or prosecuted for witness tampering in Milan, Sienna, Rome and Turin, each time for allegedly paying people to keep quiet about his so-called bunga-bunga parties.
The media magnate has never denied making the payments, but said they were to help “somebody or a family with children that was in serious financial difficulty”.
“We are confident that after the trial opens Mr Berlusconi will quickly be acquitted,” Berlusconi’s lawyer Nicolo Ghedini was quoted as telling the Repubblica newspaper.
Berlusconi was ousted in November 2011 following a parliamentary revolt against his increasingly scandal-tainted rule and a wave of panic on the financial markets that pushed Italy to the brink of default.