Milan

Mora backpedals on Berlusconi party 'excess'

'I was a passive accomplice, but never any prostitution'

Mora backpedals on Berlusconi party 'excess'

(By Emily Backus) Milan, June 28 - Bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora, on trial with two others for allegedly procuring prostitutes for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, appeared to backpedal on Friday after telling judges in a Milan court that he was a "passive accomplice" in the alleged sex-parties at Berlusconi's Arcore residence, and that the evenings did constitute "excess, abuse of power and degradation". At the beginning of the trial hearing, before his attorneys presented their defense argument, Mora read a prepared, brief declaration outside of regular court proceedings. "It's true that I participated in Silvio Berlusconi's parties at Arcore. It is true that I accompanied a number of girls. But I never meant to condition them, I never judged their behaviour, and I never channeled their conduct with constraints," said Mora. Mora also admitted that the parties constituted "excess" as well as "abuse of power and degradation - three words that I read in the newspapers and that I share". Mora explained that during various periods spent in prison on bankruptcy-related charges, he "had the chance to think a lot," that he no longer wanted to "eat rotten food" and he apologized to journalists and left-wing individuals at whom he had lashed out in the past. "I am ashamed of many disputes against journalists and Communists that I started in the past, and I want to apologise without ifs or buts," Mora said. Mora also admitted that he received a loan from Berlusconi with which he could have saved his company from bankruptcy, but said he had already "taken responsibility" for bankruptcy-related charges, and "for this judgement, you judges will decide". "I want out of this hellish storm that has taken the light away from me," Mora added. But later during a hearing break, he was qualifying statements with journalists. "At Arcore, there was nothing bad. When I spoke of 'degradation' I spoke of what a newspaper had reported," he said. Mora also told journalists, "There was never prostitution at Arcore". Earlier this month, retired TV anchorman Emilio Fede, one of the two defendants on trial with Mora, lashed out at prosecutors on asking to be treated as a "human". Prosecutors compared Fede and Mora, to "tasters of fine wine" saying that they tested the girls before putting them into "the circuit of the Arcore nights". Fede, in a letter to prosecutors, demanded "respect, because in front of you there are, with all their rights and duties, human beings". The verdict for Fede, Mora and Berlusconi's former dental hygenist and former Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti is expected on July 12.

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