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Thursday, April 24, 2014         

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Woman at center of Berlusconi trial in court


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MILAN (AP) — The Moroccan woman at the center of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's sex-for-hire trial has arrived in court to testify as a witness for the first time Monday while defense lawyers sought to shut down the trial because of Italy's election campaign.

Karima el-Mahroug was ordered by the court to appear after failing to show on two previous dates, reportedly because she was in Mexico on vacation. She has been called as a defense witness.

Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, when she was 17, and then trying to cover it up. Both deny sexual contact.

El-Mahroug is the last witness due to testify, meaning that a verdict could come before the Feb. 24-25 elections in which Berlusconi is heading a center-right coalition.

But Berlusconi's defense lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, filed a motion to suspend the proceeding, citing the demands of the election campaign.

The prosecution opposed the request, saying the trial regards Berlusconi's private life.

El-Mahroug looked relaxed, chatting with her lawyer. She wore a dark parka with fur trim and carried a fashionable Louis Vuitton handbag.






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