Silvio Berlusconi: Italy prosecutors seek 'sex' trial

image copyrightAP
image captionMr Berlusconi says the allegations against him are politically motivated

Prosecutors have requested an immediate trial for Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi on charges of sex with an under-age prostitute and abuse of power.

A judge must now decide whether to accept the prosecutors' request and indict the 74-year-old prime minister.

Mr Berlusconi is alleged to have paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl and then intervened to get her released from custody in a separate case.

He denies the sex allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

He has previously admitted calling the police after Karima El Mahroug's arrest but says he did nothing wrong and acted out of pity.

The woman, known as Ruby, is now 18 and denies that they had sex.

Although frequenting prostitutes is not a crime in Italy, having sex with one under the age of 18 is an offence that commands a prison sentence.

A Moroccan nightclub dancer, Miss Mahroug was detained for alleged theft by police but freed after a phone call from the prime minister.

'Final meeting'

Mr Berlusconi refused to appear before prosecutors as part of their investigation and last week the Italian parliament rejected their request to search the offices of the prime minister's accountant.

As part of their request, the prosecutors in Milan submitted two sets of documents in January, among them what they said was proof of payments made by the prime minister to prostitutes, including Miss Mahroug.

Although Miss Mahroug has said she received cash at the end of one of Mr Berlusconi's parties, she maintains it was not in return for sex.

Last month, Italy's Constitutional Court amended a law granting the prime minister and senior members of the government temporary immunity from prosecution.

The judges ruled that individual judges should be allowed to decide whether a prime minister should be tried in office.

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