An adjective too many, in the sparse lines of the question submitted to the expert by the judges of the Ruby ter trial: the one that asked to evaluate Silvio Berlusconi’s “even mental” state of health, after the new request for postponement of the hearing for health reasons advanced by its defenders. That adjective, as it was inevitable, sparked the indignation of the Forza Italia leader and a wave of political controversy. To the point that yesterday the president of the Milan court, Roberto Bichi, must intervene with a statement in which he explains that in the courtroom “neither the defense nor the prosecutor have proposed observations” on the text of the question formulated by judge Marco Tremolada. And that in any case the objective was only “the assessment of the health conditions” of Berlusconi “not limited to the mere physical participation of the accused in the hearing” but also to his ability to participate in the “elaboration of a line of defense”. It was necessary, adds Bichi, to verify the “possible irreversibility of the impediment”: because if Berlusconi’s health problems were chronic, then it would be inevitable to separate his position and continue with the rest of the process.
But that the uproar would break out was to be expected. Although Berlusconi’s decision to refuse the expert’s visit, but also to give up asking for further postponements for health reasons, came to smooth out the situation. The trial, the Cavaliere wrote to the judges, can go on even without my presence. Is everything resolved then? Not really. Because Berlusconi’s letter to the court only has short-term consequences, while it is by no means obvious that the former prime minister will definitively give up doing his part in the courtroom.
The immediate consequence of the letter is that Judge Tremolada canceled the appointment of the expert and ordered the prosecution to continue. The next hearing, logistical problems permitting, is set for next 6 October. On the calendar there is the interrogation of the Cavaliere’s trusted accountant, Giuseppe Spinelli, who physically took care of the transfers to the Olgettine. Then the list of witnesses for the prosecution is almost finished: only the former head of the judicial police Marco Ciacci and his successor Giorgio Bertoli are missing, at most a couple of hearings. And at that point the code provides that the word will pass to the accused.
It is a chance, that of addressing the judges directly, which Berlusconi has always held dear: he did it in the first trial Ruby wanted to do it also in the Sienese vein of Ruby ter. In this process, the decision with the lawyers has not yet been taken: but if the Knight chooses to speak, then he could again ask for a postponement pending being able to face the commitment. And the need for an expertise, perhaps more limited, would be topical again.
The alternative, if everyone agreed, would be to move the intervention of the Cav in the courtroom after the interrogation of the witnesses of the defenses: who are a flood (only Berlusconi has indicated more than a hundred) and are likely to occupy many months. An avalanche of hearings that goes to increase the statistics on the judicial commitments to which the Knight has been subjected in recent years, and which according to his doctors has contributed to exacerbate his stress: starting from the descent into the field with Forza Italia, Berlusconi has been subjected to at least ninety criminal proceedings involving 130 lawyers and fifty consultants. Overall, the hearings held in the trials against the blue leader would amount to an astronomical figure of 3,800.