Berlusconi hearing postponed

Feb. 11, 2013 at 10:27 AM
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MILAN, Italy, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A hearing for former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accused of having sex with an underage prostitute, was put on hold by the court Monday in Milan.

The court agreed to a request from Berlusconi's attorneys to postpone the hearing until March 4, after Italy's Feb. 24-25 general election, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

His lawyers contended TV appearances he had scheduled Monday constituted a "legitimate impediment" that prevented him from being in court, ANSA said.

Berlusconi, a wealthy businessman who is running for office again, denies having had sex with Karima el-Mahroug, a young Moroccan dancer known as Ruby the Heart-Stealer. El-Mahroug also denies having had sex with the former prime minister and said Berlusconi gave her money as a gift.

Berlusconi also is charged with abusing his office by allegedly having used his influence while prime minister to get el-Mahroug out of jail in Milan where she was being held on an unrelated theft claim to keep their alleged affair secret.

He could be sentenced to three years in prison on the prostitution charge and 12 years on the abuse of office count if convicted.

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