Berlusconi accused of bribing sex trial witnesses

Silvio Berlusconi at a rally in Rome, 27 November
Image caption Berlusconi has already been convicted in three other trials

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may face a new inquiry after a court judgment accused him of bribing witnesses at his prostitution trial.

The accusation is contained in a written judgment in the trial of three of his associates, who were convicted of procuring prostitutes for him.

Witnesses were paid at least 2,500 euros (£2,080; $3,400) on a monthly basis to give false testimony, it says.

The former prime minister denied any wrongdoing at his trial.

Image caption Lele Mora was convicted of procuring prostitutes in July
Image caption Emilio Fede, also convicted, was broadcaster with one of Berlusconi's channels.
Image caption Nicole Minetti moved into politics after working as a dental hygienist.

He was convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and is currently appealing against the verdict.

On Wednesday, he was stripped of his seat in the Senate over a separate conviction for tax fraud.

He has also been convicted of a breach of confidentiality over a police wiretap - a verdict against which he is also appealing.

"Money and other benefits" were given to young women to give false testimony about Berlusconi's parties, the court judgment says.

Judges became suspicious because their denials that the parties had sexual overtones were remarkably similar, the Associated Press reports.

The judgment was issued after three Berlusconi associates - showbusiness agent Lele Mora, former newsreader Emilio Fede and former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti - were found guilty of procurement in July. Appeals were lodged.