Melbourne: The Moroccan-born exotic dancer at the centre of a sex trial against Silvio Berlusconi is expected to testify for the first time in court on Monday.
Karima El-Mahroug - better known by her nickname as “Ruby the Heart Stealer” - had not appeared the first time she was called to testify and when called a second time her lawyer said she was in Mexico, the Herald Sun reported.
But now her lawyer, Paola Boccardihas said that “she will be there.”
Prosecutors have accused the defence of deliberately trying to increase the length of the trial to avoid a verdict before the general election in February.
The 76-year-old politician is accused of having sex for money with El-Mahroug on several occasions in 2010, when he was still a PM and she was just 17.
The age of consent in Italy is only 14, but sex with a prostitute who is under 18 years of age is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.
Berlusconi has denied having sex with El-Mahroug, saying that he gave her money so that she could set up a beauty parlour and avoid having to prostitute herself.
El-Mahroug has also denied a liaison with Berlusconi but was recorded in a leaked telephone wiretap telling a friend that he had said to her: “Ruby I’ll give you anything you want, I’ll turn you into gold, just hide everything.”
El-Mahroug is a witness for the defence and is unlikely to give incriminating testimony against Berlusconi, but her comments are eagerly awaited and will help to determine when the trial will end.