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Bunga Bunga Trial Halted: Berlusconi In Hospital
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been admitted to hospital - just as his Bunga Bunga sex trial enters its closing stages.
Prosecutors had been due to wrap up the case against billionaire media tycoon Berlusconi, 76, who is accused of having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office, today.
But instead his lawyers filed a request for an adjournment, revealing he had been admitted to hospital with conjunctivitis.
They said his doctor had advised him to stay away from "bright lights" for a week.
Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the court it was simply another attempt to stall the trial, which has been going on for almost two years - pointing out that a request for a delay on medical grounds had been filed initially earlier this week.
Ms Boccassini explained the first one suggested treatment at home and then it was replaced with a second which suggested hospital therapy and she added: "I'm no doctor but the serious consequences of such an illness would have been apparent straight away to a doctor.
"This escalation in medical notes is simply another attempt to slow the legal process down and have the hearing adjourned."
She urged the three woman panel of judges at the court in Milan to reject the request, telling them his illness was "not a lawful impediment" to stay away from the hearing at which she was expected to formally request a 12-year jail term against him.
Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told the court his client was admitted to Milan's San Raffaelle hospital and said: "I have spoken to Berlusconi's security team and they have confirmed he is receiving treatment and they have asked for a medical certificate.
"This certificate will explain that he has been admitted to hospital because the treatment could not be carried out at home where he was ill during the night."
Mr Ghedini explained that the eye complaint had been troubling Berlusconi for several days and it had also led to him cancelling meetings with Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and senior figures from his People of Freedom Party.
He said his personal physician had advised him to "rest completely for seven days and avoid exposure to bright lights".
Judge Giulia Turri said she would adjourn the case until she had received a fax from the hospital confirming he had been admitted.
Berlusconi is on trial for allegedly paying former belly dancer Karima El Mahroug for sex when she was just 17 years old at the Bunga Bunga parties which he threw at his villa near Milan.
The court has heard how Miss El Mahroug, who is now 19, was showered with cash and gifts by Berlusconi, along with several other show girls and starlets who were invited to the parties.
He is also accused of using his power as then prime minister in 2010 to secure Miss El Mahroug's release from custody when she was arrested for theft by wrongly telling police she was related to then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
The Moroccan-born teenager, who also goes by the stage name Ruby the Heartstealer, and Berlusconi have both denied anything untoward took place and he insists the meetings were merely "convivial dinners" with "evenings of food, dance and song".
Earlier this week, Berlusconi was sentenced to one year in jail for publishing in one of his newspapers part of a classified investigation into the role of the Democratic party (PD) in the acquisition of BNL bank by Unipol - an insurance company close to the PD - in 2005.