Prosecutors request immediate Silvio Berlusconi trial

PROSECUTORS have requested an immediate trial for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of abuse of power and having sex with a 17-year-old girl nicknamed Ruby the heartstealer.

In a statement , the prosecutors said they had “sent the examining magistrate a request for an immediate trial on the basis of sufficient evidence” for both offences.

Chief prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati and his fellow judges allege that the 74-year-old leader paid for sex with nightclub dancer Ruby, who was a minor at the time, and improperly used his power as Prime Minister by requesting police release her after she had been picked up for alleged theft.

Under Italian law, the fast-track procedure of summary judgment which skips preliminary hearings and goes straight to the trial can be requested by the public prosecutor’s office when there is clear evidence of an offence.

Mr Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex. His lawyers also claim he did not abuse his power when he told police to release Ruby, because he believed she was the niece of the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, which was untrue.

Mr Berlusconi had therefore been carrying out his duty by intervening to help a fellow leader and reduce diplomatic fallout, they say.

Ruby, a Moroccan who has since turned 18, has said they never had sex, though she says Mr Berlusconi gave her E7000 ($9500) on their first meeting and jewellery later.

When Mr Berlusconi intervened, she was in police custody after being detained for the suspected theft of E3000. Ruby was ultimately was released into the custody of a Berlusconi aide who is also under investigation. Supporters have never denied Mr Berlusconi called Milan police over the incident, but have maintained it was to avoid a diplomatic incident. Mr Berlusconi said he made the phone call out of the goodness of his heart.

He has been dogged by scandals related to his relationships with young women and parties at his villa. Prosecutors have alleged in documents forwarded to parliament that “a significant number of young girls have prostituted themselves with Berlusconi”.

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