Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi To Stand Trial For Allegedly Paying Teen For Sex

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A number of court dates await him even before the Ruby trial: on March 11 for allegedly bribing a British lawyer for favorable testimony in a previous trial against him, and on Feb. 28 for having allegedly profited from inflated film sales profits by his Mediaset Company. He also has a preliminary hearing on March 5 on suspicion of tax fraud and embezzlement in relation to TV and film rights traded by another one of his companies.

Berlusconi has not commented on the Ruby indictment, but his lawyers said they had expected it. Berlusconi is unlikely to simply accept the charge and show up in court. Most likely his lawyers will take the case to the Constitutional Court in an effort to challenge the competence of the Milan courts in the case and move it to a Parliamentary court.

They can also plead "legitimate impediment" and annul hearing hearing dates by claiming state business prevents the prime minister from attending.

Berlusconi's Teen Sex Trial to Be Presided Over By Three Women Judges

The announcement of the indictment comes on the heels of large protests across Italy and abroad on Sunday by women calling for the prime minister to step down.

Organizers say one million people who were mostly women – 200,000 in Rome alone -- took to the streets in 200 cities across Italy and even abroad with slogans such as "keep your girls at home" or "I am not for sale."

Berlusconi denies his parties involve sex, and has called the investigation into him "disgusting" and a breach of his right to privacy. He has compared the prosecutors' use of phone taps to the methods used by police in cold-war Germany. He says the accusations against him are groundless, and that Milan prosecutors are leftists with a political intent to bring him down.

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