Berlusconi trial enters closing stages

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Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s defence lawyer has denied there were any erotic ­escapades at dinners at the media mogul’s villa near Milan and accused the court of bias against him.

Nicolo Ghedini said during closing arguments yesterday that Berlusconi neither paid for sex with an underage teenager, nor exerted pressure on police officials in an effort to cover it up, as charged.

The sensational trial is in its final stage, with a verdict expected later this month. Both Berlusconi and the woman, Karima el-Mahroug, 20, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters, deny ever having had sex.

Mr Ghedini said most prosecution witnesses who described scenes of sexual excess during the parties were not there between February 2010 and May 2010 when Ms Mahroug, better known as Ruby, attended dinners at the villa. Defence witnesses described “normal” dinners during which participants chatted about football.

“We have 25 witnesses give more or less similar accounts of the evenings,” Mr Ghedini said.

He also said the judges were “culturally similar” to prosecutors, whom he has accused of waging a politically motivated campaign against Berlusconi to remove him from politics.