Italy ex-PM Berlusconi sex trial's verdict expected

The former Italian prime minister denies the allegations against him

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An Italian court is expected to rule whether ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi paid for sex with an underage prostitute and abused his office as prime minister.

Prosecutors at the trial in Milan are demanding a six-year sentence and a lifetime ban from public office.

The 76-year-old media tycoon denies all the allegations.

Mr Berlusconi, who is already embroiled in several court cases, was given a four-year sentence for tax fraud in October 2012.

Karima El-Mahroug. Photo: May 2013 Neither Karima El-Mahroug nor Mr Berlusconi are expected in court for the verdict

He lost an appeal to overturn the conviction last week.

A court convened in Milan on Monday morning, and was expected to deliver its verdict.

The judgement could have major political repercussions for Italy, analysts say.

They say a guilty ruling could weaken current Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government, which depends on the support of Mr Berlusconi's centre-right party, People of Freedom (PdL).

'Favour to Mubarak'

The prosecution in Milan says that women invited to Mr Berlusconi's private residence for so-called "bunga-bunga" party evenings were part of a prostitution system set up for his personal sexual satisfaction.

The allegations focus specifically on his relationship with Moroccan girl Karima El Mahroug, known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer", whom he is accused of paying for sex in 2010. She was 17 at the time.

Both she and Mr Berlusconi have denied the allegations.

Ms El Mahroug says she did receive 7,000 euros (£5,900), but it was as a gift after a party.

She also told a separate trial last month that she had lied to investigators when she said she had bathed naked during parties held at the former prime minister's villa at Arcore, north-east of Milan.

Silvio Berlusconi's trials

  • Accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute: Verdict due
  • Convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for arranging leak of police wiretap. Remains free while appeals process under way.
  • Accused of tax fraud over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films: Convicted in October 2012; Sentence upheld by appeals court in May
  • Two other corruption cases involving tax evasion and bribery of a British lawyer: Expired under statute of limitations

However, Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the Berlusconi trial during closing arguments last month that the young woman had lied when she denied having had sex with the former prime minister.

She said Ms Mahroug had received more than 4.5m euros (£3.8m) from Mr Berlusconi between October and December 2010.

Mr Berlusconi is also charged with abusing his power of office after calling a police station to press for the release of Ms Mahroug from custody when she was arrested in Milan in a separate petty theft case.

He has acknowledged the phone-call but says it was made as a favour to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose granddaughter he believed Ms Mahroug to be.

He told a TV programme about the "bunga-bunga" broadcast on one of his Mediaset channels that he had "absolutely never had intercourse with Ruby".

Prosecutors, whom Mr Berlusconi accuses of waging a politicised campaign against him, want him to serve a one-year jail term on the charge of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and five years for abuse of office.

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