February 11, 2013 / 2:16 PM / 5 years ago

Berlusconi sex trial halted until after election

MILAN (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi’s trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor will be postponed until after this month’s election due to his campaign commitments, Italian judges ruled on Monday.

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appears as a guest on the RAI television show Porta a Porta (Door to Door) in Rome January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The next hearing in the trial will now be held on March 4, a week after the Feb. 24-25 elections. Milan judges upheld an argument from Berlusconi’s legal team that his political campaign constituted a legitimate impediment to his attendance.

The 76-year-old media magnate and leader of the centre-right coalition, who faces separate trials for tax fraud and other offences, has had all his trials postponed until March.

The so-called “Bunga Bunga” scandal, in which Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with an underage night-club dancer, was among factors that accelerated his demise as prime minister in late 2011, at the peak of the euro zone debt crisis.

Berlusconi has conducted a vigorous television campaign which has enabled him to pick up support in opinion polls but his centre-right alliance still lags the centre-left Democratic Party.

Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro; Writing by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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