Ruby fails to show in court at Berlusconi trial

Prosecutor accuses defense of 'political' delaying tactics

Ruby fails to show in court at Berlusconi trial

Milan, December 10 - The young Moroccan woman at the centre of a sex scandal that has put Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on trial failed to show up to testify on Monday, and provided no documentation to explain her absence. The lawyer for Karima 'Ruby' El Mahroug, the underage Moroccan runaway, nightclub dancer and alleged prostitute the ex-premier is accused of having sex with, told presiding judges that her client was out of the country and that she did not know when she would be available to testify. "I tried to get in touch with the girl, but her cell phone is off, as is her boyfriend's. She sent me an SMS saying she is abroad, but I do not have documentation of this trip and I don't know when she will return," lawyer Paola Boccardi explained. Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini asked the presiding judges to remove El Mahroug as a witness and accused Berlusconi's defense lawyers, Niccolo' Ghedini and Piero Longo, of orchestrating Ruby's absence for political purposes. "This absence is not documented...This is a strategy to prolong the trial time to reach the electoral campaign," Boccassini declared. Berlusconi announced over the weekend that he would run once more for premier on a centre-right ticket, after his People of Freedom Party (PdL) threw the current technical government into crisis last week and triggered early elections. Ghedini called the accusation "intolerable" and "an attack on the defense". "I have known the strategies of the defense for defendant Berlusconi for a long time," replied Boccassini, who has complained in the past about defense witnesses' failure to show up over the course of the trial. The trial judges ruled in the defense's favor to again summon Ruby to the witness stand on December 17, arguing that her testimony is "neither superfluous nor irrelevant". In the meantime, court police will attempt to determine her whereabouts. Boccardi said she did not know if Ruby could be present on December 17.

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