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Milan judge orders trial for Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) greets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev before their meeting at the Prefecture Palace in Milan July 23, 2010. UPI Photo/Alex Volgin..
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) greets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev before their meeting at the Prefecture Palace in Milan July 23, 2010. UPI Photo/Alex Volgin.. | License Photo

MILAN, Italy, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A judge Tuesday ordered Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to stand trial on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power.

Preliminary investigations judge Cristina Di Censo in Milan granted prosecutors' request for an immediate trial, scheduling the first hearing for April 6, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

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Berlusconi, 74, and 18-year-old Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby, deny having sex when she was attending a party at one of his houses when she was 17. She said the money the media mogul gave her was a gift.

Berlusconi also is accused of using his influence with police to release Mahroug when she was detained on an unrelated theft charge. The prime minister said he contacted the police to avoid a potential diplomatic incident because the girl told him she was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Court officials said Monday an investigation into Nicole Minetti, a regional councilor and Berlusconi's former dental hygienist, Berlusconi news anchor Emilio Fede and talent scout Lele Mora for allegedly procuring prostitutes "should be closed by the weekend," ANSA reported.

Berlusconi has promised to punish prosecutors he describes as hostile, vowing to revive a wiretap bill that stalled in parliament when one-time House Speaker Gianfranco Fini withdrew his support.

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