Missing witness at Berlusconi sex trial shows up in Mexico
December 12, 2012 8:14 AM EST
The key witness at Silvio Berlusconi's sex trial who failed to appear to testify in court this week has shown up in Mexico and will not be back until January, her lawyer said on Tuesday.
Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name of "Ruby the Heartstealer" was due to give evidence in Milan on Monday in the case in which the former Italian prime minister is accused of paying her for sex when she was under age.
The court ordered police to hunt down El Mahroug after her shock no-show which, just days after Berlusconi announced he was running for office again, came as a reminder of the sex scandals that plagued his last government.
The nightclub dancer's lawyer, Paola Boccardi, who said at the trial that she did not know where her client was, told Reuters on Tuesday that El Mahroug had got in touch to say she was in Mexico with her boyfriend and baby, and would be back next month.
Boccardi said El Mahroug was "sorry" about the trouble that her absence had caused but that she would not make it back by December 17, when the next trial hearing has been set.
Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini said in court that El Mahroug's absence was a deliberate delaying tactic orchestrated by Berlusconi's lawyers to avoid a verdict in the trial until after an election which is expected in February.
The 76-year-old billionaire said last week he would seek re-election after his party abruptly withdrew support from Prime Minister Mario Monti's government, prompting Monti to announce he would resign early.
Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with El Mahroug at parties thrown in his lavish villas when she was under 18, which is the minimum legal age for prostitution in Italy.
The trial, in which dozens of aspiring showgirls have described so-called "Bunga Bunga" parties at Berlusconi's residences, is the most sensational of his legal cases and has been getting huge media attention in Italy and abroad.
Berlusconi denies all charges and El Mahroug, who is now 20, has said she never had sex with him.
The centre-right leader is also accused of abusing his powers when he was still prime minister to have El Mahroug released from police custody when she was briefly held over theft allegations.
An aide told the trial Berlusconi mistakenly thought El Mahroug was the granddaughter of Hosni Mubarak and he believed he was doing the former Egyptian dictator a favour.
(Reporting by Sara Rossi, writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
Most Popular Slideshows
- Jennifer Lawrence & Nicholas Hoult Allegedly Split: Mad Max Actor Cheats with Kristen Stewart & Riley Keough - Reports
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Lunch with the Gods: Pope Francis Eats with Vatican Workers in Cafeteria
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Google Nexus 6, 8 with Android L on Release Date Promises Killer Mobile Device Experience
- iPhone 6 Release Date Relevance to iOS Newbies: Specs Meaning, Price Considerations
- Killer Whales Gobble Japanese Whaling Crew
- HTC One M8 Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update Roll Out, Introducing the HTC One Remix
- 12-inch MacBook Apple Retina and 2014 MacBook Pro to Feature Liquid Sensors, Release in October
- The Pirate Bay Releases ‘The Mobile Bay’: Mobile Torrent Download Made Easier but Remains Illegal
- 5 Marketing Nuggets We Can All Learn From Lady Gaga