POSTED: 03:00 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2013
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.