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Berlusconi sex trial opens, but adjourns after just 10 minutes

[ 2011-04-07 10:54]     字号 [] [] []  
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's trial on charges he paid an underage girl for sex opened on Wednesday and was adjourned until May 31 after just 10 minutes.

Berlusconi, who has escaped largely unscathed in the opinion polls over the "Rubygate" case, did not attend the session. Crowds of critics and supporters verbally sparred outside the court over whether the 74-year-old should go to prison.

Some 100 television crews from as far away as Australia vied for space in front of the courthouse after the three female judges ruled they could not enter. About 100 journalists were packed inside the court.

Berlusconi is accused of giving cash and jewels to Moroccan-born Karima El Mahroug, a dancer who goes by the stage name of Ruby, in exchange for sex when she was 17 years old and thus too young under Italian law to be paid as a prostitute.

He is also accused of abusing the powers of his office to have Ruby released from police custody over unrelated theft allegations to try to prevent details of their connection emerging in official evidence. He denies the charges. El Mahroug, who is a witness, also did not attend.

Critics of the prime minister, who is also facing other trials for corruption and tax fraud, said they doubted what the Italian media has dubbed "Rubygate" would ever be concluded. "I am angry because they will never sentence him. The law is not equal for everyone. If I steal an apple, I go to jail," said Aldo Giassi, 86, who wore a Berlusconi mask.

His supporters, who set up a gazebo outside the court, said the prime minister was being pursued by leftists determined to destroy him politically, echoing Berlusconi's own words. "It's just dirt. They are trying to throw dirt at our prime minister," said Giovanni Esposito.

Newspapers have given their readers a lurid picture of life at Berlusconi's palatial private residence outside Milan, describing "bunga bunga" sex parties with dozens of young women who would leave carrying envelopes stuffed with bundles of cash.

Berlusconi, one of Italy's richest businessmen, admits a fondness for young women but has dismissed the scandalous stories, saying the dinners he regularly holds are quiet, convivial occasions where guests eat, tell jokes and sing songs.


1. How many minutes was the trail adjourned after?

2. How old is Berlusconi?

3. What was the name of the sex parties?


1. 10 minutes.

2. 74.

3. Bunga bunga.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Berlusconi sex trial opens, but adjourns after just 10 minutes

About the broadcaster:

Berlusconi sex trial opens, but adjourns after just 10 minutes

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.