Berlusconi prosecutor in formal request for sex trial
Italian prosecutors are to hand 660 pages of documents to judges today as they formally request that Silvio Berlusconi be sent to trial on allegations of abuse of office and paying for sex with an underage prostitute.
Edmondo Bruti Liberati, the chief prosecutor in the case, said he would submit the request to a court in Milan, the city where the alleged offences took place.
A judge will then have five days in which to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Prosecutors allege that the prime minister paid for sex with a Moroccan-born exotic dancer, Karima El Mahroug, when she was 17.
Having sex with a prostitute under 18 is a crime under Italian law which carries a maximum sentence of three years.
Although Mr Berlusconi has denied that he has ever paid for sex, his lawyers are expected to claim that Ms El Mahroug was in fact a year older than prosecutors say she was, rendering the accusation that he had intercourse with her of no criminal relevance.
The teenager's date of birth is cited as November 1, 1992, in the prosecution's dossier, but defence lawyers believe she may have been born a year earlier and are expected to file a request with Moroccan authorities to see her original birth certificate.
Magistrates also allege that Mr Berlusconi used his influence to instruct police to release Ms El Mahroug from unrelated theft charges after she was arrested last May. That offence carries a prison term of up to 12 years.
He is also alleged to have paid for sex with a succession of starlets and showgirls who prostituted themselves at so-called "bunga bunga" sex parties at his home outside Milan, according to the prosecution files.
Ms El Mahroug, whose stage name is Ruby the Heart Stealer, has said that the media tycoon gave her e7,000 because he felt sorry for her, but has denied having intercourse with him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)