Italy’s Berlusconi Faces New Trial Ahead of 2018 Election

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he bribed a witness to give false testimony at a trial four years ago where he eventually was acquitted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

The trial for the 81-year-old, four-time premier is set for February in the Tuscan city of Siena, not long before Berlusconi is set to try to reclaim control of the Italian government in new elections.

Berlusconi, leader of the center-right Forza Italia party, is accused of paying a piano player at his wild Bunga Bunga parties to lie at his trial about Berlusconi’s involvement with the prostitute, Karima El Mahroug, a 17-year-old Moroccan-born belly dancer who called herself Ruby the Heart Stealer.

Berlusconi has denied all charges in the case and maintained that the parties at his home near Milan were nothing more than elegant dinner parties.

He was originally convicted of paying to have sex with a minor and handed a seven-year prison sentence. But the verdict was overturned by an appellate court in 2014, which said there was no proof that Berlusconi knew the prostitute’s age.

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