The trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office, resumes on May 31. His office says he won't be present. The trial was adjourned shortly after it opened on Apr 6. In Italy it is illegal to pay for sex with a woman under 18. If convicted, he could face three years in prison and up to 12 years for abuse of power. The controversial premier has weathered 105 judicial probes and trials and 2500 court hearings -- by his own count. All were business-related cases.
The prime minister's office explained that a prior engagement in Belarus was the reason Berlusconi would not attend the sex-related case and a separate unrelated trial on May 30. The second case sees Berlusconi accused of embezzlement and tax fraud related to his vast business empire. A third and fourth current trial are also related to his business dealings. He and his supporters claim the trials are politically motivated. He is involved in four trials. The Italian investigators and prosecutors allege he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, known as Ruby Rubacuori (the Heart Stealer) and that he used his influence to get her out of police custody after she was arrested for allegedly stealing &euro3000 (US $4100). She has been called as a witness by both the defense and the prosecution. Berlusconi denies he ever had sex with Ruby, and says he has never paid for sex.. The three judges named for the trial are women. The news of the April trial came out just hours after thousands of women took to the streets in Italy's major cities to protest against the 73-year-old's sexual antics, which were leaked in detail from wiretaps and investigations over more than a year. Political opposition figures have called for the prime minister's resignation, but Italy's opposition parties are too weak to mount a decisive challenge. Berlusconi's Freedom People movement holds only a thin majority, so he has to worry about scandal-related defections from his right-wing coalition. (
Date written/update: 2011-05-31