International

Prosecutors Seek Trial For Berlusconi Over Underage Sex Claims

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a session on the confidence vote to his government at the Lower house on December 13, 2010 in Rome. i i

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a session on the confidence vote to his government at the Lower house on December 13, 2010 in Rome. Franco Origlia/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a session on the confidence vote to his government at the Lower house on December 13, 2010 in Rome.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a session on the confidence vote to his government at the Lower house on December 13, 2010 in Rome.

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Prosecutors announced today that they will ask a judge to OK a trial for Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who's being accused of having sex with an underage girl, then using his influence to get her out of jail.

Reuters reports:

Once the request is submitted by Milan prosecutors, who believe they have enough evidence to skip a preliminary hearing and go straight to trial, the judge will have five days to decide, although the deadline could be extended by a few days.

"We'll have a final meeting today on the procedural aspects and tomorrow we will forward the request to the judge," chief prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati told reporters on Tuesday.

Last month, prosecutors announced Berlusconi had been formally put under investigation. Investigators were looking into Berlusconi's relationship with Karima El Mahroug, who told investigators she attended parties at Berlusconi's house near Milan.

The Guardian provides more background:

The inquiry into the affair uncovered evidence, which Berlusconi's lawyers dispute, that Mahroug had several times visited the prime minister's home near Milan. Documents submitted to parliament last month contained witness statements and wiretap transcripts indicating dinners at the villa, attended by large numbers of women, led to "bunga bunga" sessions involving striptease and sex play.

Under Italian law, the age of consent is 14. But paying for the services of a prostitute aged under 18 is an offence, punishable by up to three years in prison. Juvenile prostitution is widely defined and, to secure a conviction, the prosecution does not have to prove full sexual intercourse took place.

Last May, Mahroug, 17 at the time, was arrested and taken to a Milan police station. Berlusconi allegedly made a call and Mahroug was turned over to a friend of the prime minister.

The two charges — underage prostitution and abuse of power — Berlusconi faces carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

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