MILAN Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has flown to the United States for tests on his heart condition, meaning he could not attend the start of a new trial on Monday tied to his "bunga bunga" parties, his lawyers said.
The lawyers said Berlusconi had checked into the Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center in New York for a medical visit almost four months after undergoing major open heart surgery in Italy.
Berlusconi turned 80 last week and had a party with family and friends to celebrate. There has been no indication of any worsening of his condition.
The media tycoon had been due in court on Monday for a preliminary hearing in a case where he is accused of handing out about 10 million euros (8.53 million pound) in bribes to persuade guests at his private parties to keep quiet about the revelries.
Berlusconi denies the allegations.
He was acquitted last year of having sex with an under-aged prostitute at his parties. The judge ruled that it could not be proved that he knew the woman was just 17 at the time.
(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Andrew Heavens)