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Bid to move Berlusconi sex trial is rejected

Other News Materials 18 July 2011 17:48
A request by Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers that an illicit sex trial against the Italian Prime Minister should be dealt with a specially appointed tribunal, was rejected Monday by magistrates currently handling the case.
Bid to move Berlusconi sex trial is rejected

A request by Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers that an illicit sex trial against the Italian Prime Minister should be dealt with a specially appointed tribunal, was rejected Monday by magistrates currently handling the case, DPA reported.

The lawyers argue that since some of the charges against Berlusconi stem from his alleged abuse of his position as premier, a tribunal created to try top government officials should be responsible for the trial, instead of the Milan magistrates.

But presiding judge Giulia Turri noted that in terms of a principle in Italy's constitution on "the equality of all citizens before the law," an exception could not be made for Berlusconi.

Berlusconi is accused of paying Moroccan go-go dancer Karima El Mahroug - who is also known by her stage name Ruby Stealer of Hearts - for sex when she was still 17.

Prosecutors also accuse the 74-year-old premier of abusing his position to cover up his liaison with Ruby. The charges stem from his intervention on Ruby's behalf, when she was held in police custody in Milan on suspicion of theft, in May 2010.

Berlusconi has denied having had sex with Ruby. He has however, admitted to intervening on her behalf, saying he believed she was the niece of former Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak and that her arrest would cause a diplomatic incident.

Earlier this month Italy's constitutional court, the Consulta, accepted as valid objections raised by Berlusconi's lawyers and by parliament - where the ruling conservatives have a majority - concerning the Milan magistrates.

Legal experts say several months could pass before the Consulta makes a definitive ruling on the competency of the Milan magistrates.

On Monday Turri said the Milan court had "taken note" of the fact that the Consulta was considering the issues of competency for the case.

The trial was adjourned to October 3.

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