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Italy PM Berlusconi loses motion to move trial to a special court

A Milan criminal court on Monday denied a motion filed by Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official website, in Italian; JURIST news archive] to move his prostitution trial to the Tribunal of Ministers [official website], a special court set up to prosecute public officials. The Tribunal of Ministers would require parliamentary authorization before hearing the case against Berlusconi. Berlusconi is on trial for allegedly paying for sex with a minor, then 17-year-old dancer, Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby, and later calling police to secure her release while she was detained on an unrelated suspicion of theft. Also on Monday, a hearing [CNN report] was held in a separate corruption case [JURIST report] against Berlusconi for allegedly paying his former lawyer David Mills [JURIST news archive] in order to secure false testimony in his favor during two trials in 1997 and 1998 involving Berlusconi's broadcasting company, Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian]. The judge denied several other motions [AP report] brought by Berlusconi's lawyers. He did not attend the hearing, and his case was continued until October 3.

Berlusconi has been a defendant in nearly 50 cases, including two other ongoing proceedings involving tax fraud and embezzlement [JURIST reports]. Earlier this month, an Italian appeals court ordered Fininvest [corporate website], a holding company owned by Berlusconi, to pay 560 million euros (USD 801 million) in damages and fees to Compagnie Industriali Riunite (CIR) Group [corporate website]. The complaint stemmed from Fininvest's 1991 acquisition of Italian publishing company Mondadori [corporate website], during which Fininvest bribed a judge in exchange for favorable decisions. Neither Berlusconi nor Ruby attended [JURIST report] the beginning of the prostitution trial in April, and the court adjourned after only 10 minutes. Both parties deny having a sexual relationship, and Berlusconi has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations groundless.

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