Woman at center of Berlusconi trial in court

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.

Karima el-Mahroug, the Moroccan woman at the center of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's sex-for-hire trial, sits in a court room prior to to testifying as a witness for the first time, in Milan, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. El-Mahroug was ordered by the court to appear Monday to testify after failing to show on two previous dates because she was reportedly in Mexico on vacation. She has been called as a defense witness. Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with woman, better known as Ruby, when she was 17, and then trying to cover it up. Both deny sexual contact. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

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.

Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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