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Berlusconi sex trial opens.

Summary: The so-called "Rubygate" case which has gripped media attention has arrived at court in Italy.

The so-called "Rubygate" case which has gripped media attention has arrived at court in Italy.

A judge in Milan has opened one of the most sensational trials in recent history and immediately adjourned it until May 31.

When the case comes back to court, judges will hear charges laid against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who is accused of paying a teenage nightclub dancer for sex last year.

Neither Berlusconi nor his chief lawyers were in court. However, that is unlikely to stem the interest in the whole trial, with hundreds of journalists and camera crews expected to be in the Italian capital.

Berlusconi is accused of giving cash and jewels to Moroccan-born Karima El Mahroug, in exchange for sex when she was only 17 years old, which is too young under Italian law to be paid as a prostitute.

He is also accused of abusing the powers of his office to have her released from police custody over unrelated theft allegations in an apparent bid to prevent details of their connection emerging in official evidence.

Berlusconi has denied the charges against him and has launched a string of bitter attacks on what he describes as leftist magistrates determined to destroy him politically.

No verdict is expected for months and legal manoeuvring may push the case into the kind of judicial limbo that has seen many past cases involving politicians run into the sand.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2011. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Apr 8, 2011
Words:273
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