The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has dismissed as ‘farce’ a request to have him tried on charges of paying for under-age sex and abusing his position of power.
Prosecutors have made a fast-track application to try him immediately, suggesting they already have enough evidence to skip preliminary hearings.
“On the subject of the court case, I can only say it’s a farce, comprising completely baseless accusations,” Berlusconi said. “The only purpose of the entire enquiry is defamation by media.”
Milan’s chief prosecutor has gathered nearly 800 pages of evidence alleging Berlusconi paid for sex with a significant number of women – including a runaway Moroccan nightclub dancer who was 17 at the time, below the legal age for prostitution.
A group of the 74-year old ‘s supporters gathered outside the court in Milan but this scandal – and other claims of embezzlement, tax-fraud and corruption – is damaging his already fragile grip on power.
The prosecutors also allege that Berlusconi put pressure on police to release the dancer – known as Ruby – after she was arrested for an unrelated theft. Berlusconi has admitted making a call on her behalf but claimed someone told him that she was the niece of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. He denied having done anything wrong, saying he wanted to avoid potential diplomatic embarrassment.