ROME --Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s request that his trial for allegedly paying a minor for sex be suspended in the run-up to next month’s elections was thrown out by judges Monday.
Lawyers representing the former leader argued that he would be too busy running his election campaign to dedicate himself to the trial. But after a four-hour deliberation, judges replied that campaigning was not on a par with parliamentary appearances, which can merit suspension of a trial, and ordered the proceedings to continue.
Berlusconi, 76, is accused of paying Moroccan-born dancer Karima El-Mahroug for sex at his infamous "bunga bunga" parties in Milan when she was 17. Paying for sex with a minor is illegal in Italy. Both deny having had sex.
Mahroug was summoned to court as a witness by the defense before Christmas, but held up the trial when she failed to appear. Her lawyer said she had gone to Mexico on vacation.