Berlusconi trial decision delayed

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, February 15, 2011
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Italian judge Cristina di Censo on Monday asked for more time to determine whether to allow for the fast-track trial that will determine whether Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is guilty of abuse of power and paying a minor for sex.

Di Censo was expected to announce on Monday or Tuesday whether she would allow the trial based on the papers prosecutors filed last Wednesday, but instead she said she would take more time to decide, without stating a specific time limit or the reason she could not decide within the five-day period the law prescribes.

When she makes her decision, she will either allow the trial to proceed as prosecutors requested, or she could ask for research into the charges, or she could decide that her court does not have jurisdiction.

Berlusconi has faced at least 17 official criminal and civil allegations since he first burst onto the Italian political scene in 1994, but these charges could cause serious problems both because pollsters say the accusations are resonating with a weary Italian public and because the case appears to be constructed to make a conviction more likely.

The investigation got underway in December on allegations that the 74-year-old Berlusconi paid for sex with a Moroccan-born cabaret dancer named Karima el Mahrough, best known by her stage name "Ruby." She was 17 at the time.

Prosecutors also charge that Berlusconi tried to use his influence to have el Mahrough released from prison, where she was being held on charges of theft.

Berlusconi reportedly lied to police to claim that el Mahrough was the niece of then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and that they should release her in order to avoid a diplomatic crisis.

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