Judges say Ruby trial will continue without her testimony

Court denies Berlusconi request to suspend trial during campaign

Judges say Ruby trial will continue without her testimony

Milan, January 14 - Judges in Silvio Berlusconi's sex trial on Monday rejected the ex-premier's call to suspend the case until after the February 24-25 general election. But in a surprise move, they said they would not demand the testimony of the young woman at the centre of the case. Instead, said the judges, they would rely on statements that Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heart-stealer, made to investigators in the case. El Mahroug, the young Moroccan woman who Berlusconi is accused of having paid for sex when she was under-age, appeared in court Monday morning to give evidence at his trial. He stands accused of having paid the woman for sex when she was under 18, the legal age for prostitution in Italy, and later using his position to hush up their relationship. The judges also ruled the trial will proceed despite Berlusconi's complaint that he would be too busy campaigning to properly defend himself. Berlusconi, who is leading the centre-right forces in next month's election, also said he thought there was a danger his rivals would exploit the trial for political gain.

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