Trial adjourns over Berlusconi eye ailment

March 8, 2013 at 11:16 AM

MILAN, Italy, March 8 (UPI) -- An eye problem experienced by ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi led to the adjournment of his trial on sex-related charges until Monday.

Berlusconi, being tried on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute, was hospitalized Friday for an infection after he sought to skip the proceedings a day earlier, ANSA reported.

The lead prosecutor urged judges to reject Berlusconi's request of "legitimate impediment," despite his hospitalization. However, the judges granted Berlusconi's request and adjourned the trial until Monday.

Berlusconi's defense team filed documents with the court Thursday asking that Berlusconi be excused from Friday's session. He was taken to a Milan hospital Friday as the judges were considered his request.

During arguments on the defense request, Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini urged judges to reject Berlusconi's plea, saying "there has been an escalation of medical certificates recently."

Prosecutors had expected to finish their cross-examination of Berlusconi and begin closing arguments by the middle of the month, ANSA said.

Berlusconi, leader of the center-right People of Freedom Party, is accused of paying to have sex with Moroccan runaway and belly-dancer Karima El Mahroug while she was still underage at a sex party at his home. He also is charged with abusing his position to gain her release from police custody when she was held on an unrelated crime.

Both have denied any wrong-doing.

On Wednesday, Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in publishing material obtained by an illegal wiretap.

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