Italy's Silvio Berlusconi faces sex, abuse of power trial | world | Hindustan Times
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Italy's Silvio Berlusconi faces sex, abuse of power trial

world Updated: Feb 15, 2011 17:37 IST

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will go on trial for buying underage sex and abuse of power in April, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

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

"We didn't expect anything else," Berlusconi's lawyers said on hearing the news.

Berlusconi will be tried by three female judges.

Di Censa upheld requests by Milan magistrates to fast-track a trial against the 74-year-old leader on allegations 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 as prime minister by requesting that police release the young Moroccan after she had been arrested for alleged theft in May.

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

It is not the first time that the premier has been mired in a sex scandal. But he now faces three years in prison if found guilty of paying minors for sex, and from six to twelve years for abuse of power.