Berlusconi faces sex, abuse of power trial

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Rome, Feb 15 (AFP) Italian Prime Minister SilvioBerlusconi will go on trial for buying underage sex and abuseof power in April, a judge ruled today.

Judge Cristina Di Censa, the examining judge at the courtin Milan, fixed the date for the first hearing in a fast-tracktrial for April 6.

"We didn''t expect anything else," Berlusconi''s lawyerssaid on hearing the news. Berlusconi will be tried by threefemale judges.

Di Censa upheld requests by Milan magistrates tofast-track a trial against the 74-year-old leader onallegations he paid for sex with a nightclub dancer called"Ruby the Heart Stealer," who was 17 at the time.

They also accused him of improperly using his power asprime minister by requesting that police release the youngMoroccan after she had been arrested for alleged theft in May.

Using the services of prostitutes is not a crime inItaly, but paying for sex with a girl under the age of 18 isillegal. Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex, let alonewith Ruby, who only turned 18 in November 2010.

It is not the first time that the premier has been miredin a sex scandal. But he now faces three years in prison iffound guilty of paying minors for sex, and from six to twelveyears for abuse of power. (AFP)

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