MILAN (REUTERS) - An Italian court accused former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday of bribing witnesses to give false testimony in a trial linked to the case in which he has been charged with paying for sex with a minor.
The accusation, two days after Berlusconi was stripped of his seat in parliament for tax fraud, came in a written judgment from the trial of three associates of the billionaire media tycoon who are charged with procuring prostitutes for parties at his home near Milan.
The court said on Friday the evidence against Berlusconi and the others implicated had been sent to prosecutors who are expected to open a new investigation into the case, court documents showed.
It said there was evidence Berlusconi had paid "money and other benefits" to young women who had taken part in the parties near Milan to give false testimony in the case, one of a number of scandals which overshadowed the end of his last government in 2011.
It said the regular monthly payments of at least 2,500 euros (S$4,270) to witnesses in trials in which the 77-year-old Berlusconi was implicated "is not an anomaly but an illegal action. It is evidence of corruption".
Berlusconi was convicted in June of paying for sex with former nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known by the stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer", when she was under 18. He was also found guilty of abusing the powers of his office as prime minister to have her released from police custody over a separate case.
He denies any wrongdoing and has appealed against the verdicts, which would not become effective until the whole appeals process is exhausted.
El Mahroug, who is also suspected of giving false testimony, has denied having sex with Berlusconi.
In a separate but parallel trial, three associates - showbusiness agent Lele Mora, Emilio Fede, a former newsreader at one of Berlusconi's television stations, and Nicole Minetti, a former dental hygienist - were found guilty of procuring young women for prostitution.