Berlusconi to attend underage-prostitute trial on Friday

Ex-premier denies paying for sex with Moroccan runaway

Berlusconi to attend underage-prostitute trial on Friday

(ANSA) - Milan, October 18 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday will attend a Milan trial into allegations he paid to have sex with an alleged underage prostitute, legal sources said on Thursday. The media magnate denies paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan runaway and belly dancer also known as Ruby, before she turned 18. He also denies abusing his power to try to cover up the affair. This allegation regards a telephone call he made to a police station in May 2010 to ask about Mahroug, who had been detained over a theft accusation. Berlusconi has said he was trying to avoid a diplomatic incident as he had been falsely told Mahroug was a relative of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Prosecutors, on the other hand, argue the premier was trying to hush up the affair by calling and then sending an official of his People of Freedom (PdL) party to pick her up. Prosecutors allege Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at a number of so-called 'bunga bunga' parties at his home near Milan, including the then underage Ruby. Berlusconi has stressed that both he and Ruby deny the charges and says he is the victim of biased prosecutors. The charge of having sex with an underage prostitute carries a jail term of up to three years, and abuse of office 12 years. Three other people have also been indicted in the case on suspicion of procuring young women for the premier's alleged sex parties. They are Berlusconi's former dental hygienist, ex-showgirl and now Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti, the PdL official who was sent to the police station for Mahroug last year; a former news anchor at one of Berlusconi's TV channels and close personal friend of the premier's, Emilio Fede; and a showbiz talent scout and self-styled 'VIP impresario', Lele Mora.

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