Trial date set for Italy's Berlusconi

21:20, February 15, 2011      

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File photo taken on Oct. 7, 2010 shows Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacts during a press conference in Rome, Italy. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was ordered to stand trial for paying a minor for sex and abuse of power, a judge ruled on Tuesday. The trial is to begin on April 6. (Xinhua/Wang Qingqin)

The trial that will determine whether Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is guilty of abuse of power and minor prostitution will start in Milan on April 6, examining judges said Tuesday.

The judge in the case, Cristina Di Censo, granted the request for a fast-track trial filed by prosecutors last Wednesday as she determined "evidence of proof" existed that the alleged crimes were committed.

She also determined the Milan court had the authority to try a prime minister.

The investigation started in December after allegations Berlusconi paid for sex with a Moroccan-born cabaret dancer named Karima el Mahrough, best known by her stage name "Ruby," who allegedly was 17 at the time, and then abused his power to cover it up.

The 74-year-old premier has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case, saying he only helped the girl. He dismissed the accusations as groundless and claimed the Italian judiciary had failed to be impartial.

In Italy, paying for sex with a prostitute below the age of 18 is an offense punishable with a maximum penalty of three years in jail, while the maximum sentence for abuse of power is 12 years.

Three of Berlusconi's entourage, show-business agent Lele Mora, TV newscaster Emilio Fede and regional councilor Nicole Minetti, a former TV showgirl and once Berlusconi's dental hygienist, are also under investigation on suspicion of having helped lure young women into sex parties at the premier's home.

Source: Xinhua

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