Milan court rejects Berlusconi bid to move Ruby sex trial


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inside the Parliament in Rome on July 15, 2011.



A Milan court on Monday rejected a defense request to have Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex trial moved to a special tribunal for ministers in Rome.

Berlusconi, who says the Milan judges are biased against him, stands accused of paying for sex with an underaged Moroccan nightclub dancer. He is also accused of abusing his powers to cover up the affair, and denies both charges.

The trial is known as the “Ruby case”, after the stage name of dancer Karima El Mahroug, who was aged 17 at the time of the alleged offense.

Reuters reports that had the case been moved to Rome, prosecutors would have had lost much of their work.

Berlusconi, 74, went on trial in April on allegations that he gave cash and jewels to El Mahroug in exchange for sex.

While prostitution is not a crime in Italy, the BBC reports that it is an offense to have sex with a prostitute under the age of 18.

(Read more on GP: To understand Silvio Berlusconi, look at his political godfather: Bettino Craxi)

The final decision in the Ruby case will be made by Italy’s constitutional court by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the court ruled that it could consider an appeal by parliament that the Rome tribunal should hear charges relating to Berlusconi's alleged abuse of power.

Critics argue that Berlusconi would likely receive a more favorable hearing in the tribunal.

The Ruby case is one of four trials facing the prime minister, with the other three concerning corruption allegations.