Berlusconi Ruby
© AFP
PM's predicament: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (left) is fighting charges that he paid model and nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby, for sex when she was 17.
An Italian court says it won't delay a ruling on charges that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi paid a teen for sex.

The same court, in a separate case, indicted three of Mr Berlusconi allies accused of having paid young girls to attend sex parties at the premier's villa in Arcore, near Milan.

They will stand trial from November 21.

Italy's head of state, who celebrated his 75th birthday last week amid a string of legal cases, was not present when his team asked for judgment to be postponed to February, pending a Constitutional Court ruling on the Milan court's competence in the case.

Mr Berlusconi is accused of having bought sex from Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer", when she was 17 - a crime punishable by three years in jail.

He is also alleged to have abused his power to spring her from police custody when she was arrested on suspicion of theft.

The Italian Senate voted on September 14 to move the trial to a special ministers' court, saying the Milan court was not the correct tribunal to consider the abuse of power charge.

For the trial to be held by a ministers' court, parliament would have to vote in favour of setting one up - and considering Mr Berlusconi's majority in both houses it would most likely refuse to do so, causing the case to collapse.

The parliamentary motion to move the trial still has to go before the Constitutional Court, Italy's highest tribunal. A final decision is expected between the end of this year and the start of 2012.

Mr Berlusconi's defenders argue that he believed Ruby to have been the niece of then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and that he had acted to preserve relations between the two countries.

In the same building in a different courtroom, a close friend of the prime minister, talent scout Lele Mora, appeared with two others for a preliminary hearing that decided to send them to trial.

Mr Mora, TV journalist Emilio Fede and Nicole Minetti, Berlusconi's former dental hygienist, are accused of soliciting about 32 girls to have sex with Mr Berlusconi at raunchy parties at his villa, including Ruby.

Mr Berlusconi also faces separate trials for fraud, bribery, and revealing court secrets.


Comment: Berlusconi's other trials will no doubt will be 'dealt with' in a similar manner.