Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Berlusconi will face trial for sex charge

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi will stand trial on charges he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby

Milan: Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, who has dodged corruption trials and no-confidence votes with the skill of an Olympic athlete, faced a potentially fatal challenge to his power Tuesday when a judge ordered him tried on prostitution and abuse of power charges. Judge Cristina Di Censo handed down the indictment with a terse statement. The trial will be heard by a panel of three judges, all of them women. 
   The decision means Di Censo believes there is sufficient evidence to subject Berlusconi to an immediate trial, as had been requested by prosecutors. The speeded-up procedure skips the preliminary hearing stage and is ordered in cases of overwhelming evidence.
   Berlusconi is going on trial April 6 in Milan on charges that he paid for sex with a 17-yearold Moroccan girl and then tried to cover it up. Berlusconi has stood trial on a number of business-related charges, but this is the first time the 74-yearold billionaire businessman is being tried for personal conduct. The premier has called the accusations “groundless’’ and dismissed the case as a “farce,’’ accusing prosecutors of seeking to oust him from power.
   There was no immediate comment from Berlusconi. He skipped a planned appearance at a news conference in Sicily about immigration, and was returning to Rome.
   “We didn’t expect anything
   “Leave the premiership, let us not be the laughing stock of the world,’’ said Alessandro Maran of the leading opposition Democratic Party. “Free Italy.’’ Prosecutors allege Berlusconi paid for sex with the Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained for the unrelated suspected theft of euro3,000 ($4,103). AP


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