Berlusconi to stand trial on prostitution charges

Prime Minister says he has no intention of resigning

An Italian judge ruled Thursday that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will have to stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and abuse of power for trying to cover it up. Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan nightclub dancer also known as Ruby Heartthrob, deny the prostitution accusations. The prime minister also denies pressuring a Milan police chief to release the girl from detention, where she was being held on charges of theft. The trial is scheduled to start on April 6, but the prime minister said he has no intention to resign, and accused the judiciary of staging a coup to force him out of office. The news broke just as Berlusconi faces the resumption of two long-delayed trials in Milan on charges of fraud and tax evasion. It is the first time, however, that judges are calling on Berlusconi to defend himself in court on charges related to his private life. Giorgio Napolitano, the Italian head of state, who has the power to dissolve parliament, hinted last week at the possibility that the renewed clash between the prime minister and the judiciary could lead to early elections.

Financial Times

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