Italian lawmakers to vote on Berlusconi sex trial motion
Italy's parliament was scheduled to vote later Tuesday on a motion presented by Silvio Berlusconi's ruling conservative coalition aimed at blocking the prime minister's so- called "sex trial."
The trial, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, sees the 74-year-old premier accused of paying Moroccan go-go dancer Karima El Mahroug for sex at his home near Milan in 2010, when she was 17 years old, DPA reported.
Prosecutors also accuse Berlusconi of abusing the powers of his office by intervening on El Mahroug's behalf when she was briefly held by police on suspicion of theft - a move allegedly aimed at covering up his liaison with her.
Conservative politicians say that because Berlusconi allegedly committed the abuse of power offence in his official capacity as premier, the charges should be handled not by Milan magistrates, but by a specially-appointed court.
They say that the lower house Chamber of Deputies, of which Berlusconi is a member - and where the government has a slim majority - should through Tuesday's vote appeal to Italy's Constitutional Court for a ruling on the matter.
Berlusconi has denied having sex with El Mahroug and has said he was acting in "good faith" when he claimed to police that she was former Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak's niece and that they should release her to avoid a diplomatic incident.
Italy's centre-left opposition, which has repeatedly asked Berlusconi to resign over the scandal, says it will vote against the motion to block the trial.
The trial against Berlusconi could still continue even if the motion is approved, since the Constitutional Court could deliberate for several months before reaching a verdict.