Seduced millionairesses to testify at gigolo trial

March 1st, 2009 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Munich, March 1 (DPA) Four rich German women who were allegedly seduced by a smooth-talking Swiss gigolo are expected to testify against him in court this month, a prosecution spokesman said Sunday in Munich.
Among them will be publicity-shy mother-of-three Susanne Klatten, 46, reputedly Germany’s richest woman, who owns a large stake in the luxury car manufacturer BMW as well as a pharmaceuticals company.

A news magazine, Focus, said the prosecution and defence agreed that the public and media must be excluded from the courtroom when the women describe their alleged trysts with Helg Sgarbi, who has been in custody since his arrest in Vomp, Austria last year.

About a week ago, Italy released a co-accused from pre-trial custody on the grounds there was not enough evidence against him.

Anton Winkler, the prosecutor, said: “If the accused does not admit the charges in their entirety, the victims have to testify.”

But he added that in Germany it was the court’s responsibility to summon them, not the prosecutor’s.

Klatten’s spokesman told the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “If a summons comes from the court, she will testify.”

News reports have portrayed Klatten as a dutiful businesswoman willing to endure public shame to bring Sgarbi to justice.

Media claim Sgarbi was a serial seducer who used invented stories to persuade his wealthy victims to give him millions of euros. He has been indicted for serious fraud. He allegedly threatened to publish intimate pictures of Klatten and faces two counts of blackmail.

The trial in Munich is scheduled to begin March 9. German law punishes serious fraud with up to 10 years’ prison and blackmail with up to 15 years.

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