16 Feb 2011

Italian PM sent to trial on sex charges

8:43 am on 16 February 2011

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office.

A judge in Milan says the case is being fast-tracked and the trial will begin on 6 April.

Mr Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing, as does Karima El Mahroug, the girl he is accused of having sex with. She was 17 at the time.

The trial will be held in front of three female judges, the BBC reports.

Mr Berlusconi says he has been targetted by politically motivated prosecutors who are determined to bring him down.

His lawyer says he will appeal against the decision to send him to trial.

If convicted, Mr Berlusconi could face up to 15 years in prison.