Silvio Berlusconi will go to trial for prostitution in April
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will go on trial to face charges of prostitution. There has been intense speculation for weeks over whether he would be formally charged with a crime; it is rumored he paid for a sexual encounter with an underage girl. His first court hearing will be April 6.
Charges brought against prime minister of Italy
After controversy erupted over whether Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy enlisted the services of an underage prostitute in the past few months, law enforcement officials have brought criminal charges against him, according to The Telegraph. Berlusconi is alleged to have paid for the services of a now-18-year-old who calls herself Ruby the Heartstealer. Ruby, real name Karima el-Mahroug, was 17 at the time of the alleged transaction. The first hearing will be on April 6, as the case was set to be fast tracked by Judge Cristina Di Censo. Berlusconi will also face charges of abuse of powers as prime minister.
Throng of protesters decry ‘Rubygate’
The scandal, which is already being called “Rubygate,” drew a crowd of thousands of protesters, mostly women, calling for the removal of Berlusconi. This is the first time he is being brought to trial for personal conduct rather than business related violations. Berlusconi and his party retain a slim majority in the Italian parliament, but public support is quickly waning for him in the wake of the scandal, according to the New York Times. Berlusconi will not have to appear for the initial hearing in Milan. Prostitution is legal in Italy, but the service provider must be at least 18.
Berlusconi says he’s not guilty of prostitution
One of the guests at the lascivious “bunga bunga” parties that Berlusconi held last year was Karima el-Mahroug, then 17. Berlusconi gave her 7,000 euros, just less than $10,000, the first time they met, according to MSNBC. Prosecutors say it was a payment for sex. Berlusconi and Ruby deny ever being intimate. Berlusconi is also charged with abuse of powers, having personally pressured a police officer to let Ruby out of theft charges. He claims she told him she was the granddaughter of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and he was trying to avoid an international incident.