Italy opens probe into death of 'bunga bunga' witness

Leader of the Italian right-wing party Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a campaign rally in Milan

Leader of the Italian right-wing party Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a campaign rally in Milan

Magistrates opened a murder investigation after the death this month of Iman Fadil, 34, who was due to give evidence at the former Italian prime minister's bribery trial.

Imane Fadil, 33, died in a Milan hospital on March 1, a month after being admitted with stomach pains.

Mr Berlusconi is already being investigated or prosecuted for witness tampering in Milan, Siena, Rome and Turin, each time for allegedly paying people to keep quiet about his bunga bunga parties.

Fadil testified at the 2012 trial of Berlusconi, who was accused of paying for sex with a Moroccan-born night-club dancer, Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed Ruby, when she was under the age of 18 and thus too young under Italian law to be paid as a prostitute. Italy's ANSA news agency reported Saturday that toxicology tests indicated that she died of a "mix of radioactive substances".

Imane Fadil
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Berlusconi was initially convicted in the case but ultimately acquitted after a judge ruled he could not have known the underage prostitute was in fact a minor. "I never knew this person and I never spoke to them".

"What I read of her statements made me think that everything was invented, absurd", he said. That trial is ongoing.

Late previous year, lawyers for one of Berlusconi's co-defendants in the witness tampering trial began negotiations to settle the women's claims, ANSA reported at the time. Two weeks later, Fadil was hospitalized. Magistrates said that she had symptoms seen in poisoning victims.

She had reportedly been telling friends recently that she had "many things to reveal". Doctors have yet to identify what caused her death, but said there had been "several anomalies" in her blood samples and medical records. It said it provided the results of her toxicological exams to prosecutors when they were completed on March 6.

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