George Clooney a witness in Berlusconi sex trial?

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 23:30

Milan : Hollywood star George Clooney could testify in Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi`s upcoming trial on charges of paying an underage prostitute for sex.

Berlusconi`s lawyers Tuesday named Clooney on a list of 78 witnesses, news reports said.

The actor`s Italian girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, and two female Italian cabinet ministers were also cited as witnesses for the trial, which begins April 6.

Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna and Education Minister Maria Stella Gelmini would be able to testify on the "mode of conduct" at dinner parties hosted by Berlusconi at his Arcore residence near Milan, the lawyers said in a document submitted to judicial authorities.

The premier`s lawyers have described his dinner parties as "elegant" affairs where guests listened to Berlusconi`s song performances and watched football on television.

Prosecutors allege the premier`s parties involved sex orgies, including those attended by 18-year-old Moroccan go-go dancer Karima El Mahroug, who is at the centre of the case against the 74-year-old conservative premier.

Last month El Mahroug was quoted in some news reports as saying that she saw Clooney and Canalis at one of the parties. Canalis subsequently denied that she and her actor boyfriend had ever visited Berlusconi at Arcore.

Berlusconi is charged with paying El Mahroug for sex in 2010, when she was 17 years old.

Prosecutors also accuse the premier of abusing the powers of his office by intervening on El Mahroug`s behalf when she was briefly held by police on suspicion of theft.

Berlusconi and El Mahroug have denied ever having sex with each other.

The premier has also said he was acting in "good faith" when in May 2010 he claimed to police that she was former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak`s niece and that they should release her to avoid a diplomatic incident.

Berlusconi`s lawyers also named El Mahroug as a witness. She also appears on the list of 178 witnesses submitted by prosecutors.

Some 33 of those named are young women who, according to evidence mostly obtained by wire taps, allegedly received money and other gifts from the premier in exchange for sex.

Berlusconi says politically motivated, leftist magistrates want to destroy him and has rejected calls for his resignation from the centre-left opposition.

If convicted the premier faces up to 15 years in prison.

IANS



First Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 23:30

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