In Milan, a nightclub dancer at the centre of criminal sex allegations against Silvio Berlusconi has appeared in court.
Karima El Mahroug, who is better known by her stage name Ruby the Heart-stealer, is the main witness in the case against the former Italian prime minister.
Berlusconi is facing trial for allegedly paying the young woman for sex when she was under 18, the legal minimum age for prostitution in Italy. Prosecutors claim it happened at the 76 year old’s infamous Bunga-Bunga parties.
The court has rejected an application by Berlusconi’s lawyers to delay the trial until after the general election at the end of February, where he is seeking a fifth term in government.
They had argued that his participation in the election constituted a legitimate impediment to his appearing in court.
The media billionaire denies all the charges, which include abuse of power.
Court rejects Berlusconi plea for sex case delay