MILAN (Reuters) – An Italian judge on Wednesday rejected a request by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to suspend a corruption trial against him because he is gravely ill.
However, Judge Marco Tremolada has set the next hearing for all defendants for September 8, giving the 84-year-old billionaire more than three months to recover from his latest bout of illness.
Berlusconi, four times prime minister, was hospitalized this year after contracting COVID-19 last September, and speculation has increased in recent days about his deteriorating health.
At a hearing in a case related to the one in which he was acquitted of having sex with a minor nicknamed “Ruby”, Tremolada ruled that Berlusconi’s position should not be separated from the other defendants, dismissing the pleadings of prosecutors and the defense.
Berlusconi is accused of having bribed witnesses to remain silent on the case of child prostitution. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
“Berlusconi’s inability to attend the trial can inevitably lead to the paralysis of the trial for the other defendants,” said Berlusconi’s lawyer Federico Cecconi.
Prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano said Berlusconi suffered from multiple psychiatric and neurological conditions that are unlikely to be cured by September, but the judge said the court was optimistic about his recovery.
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi and Alfredo Faieta; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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