Premier Silvio Berlusconi's trial on charges he paid for sex with an underage prostitute, then tried to use his influence to cover it up, was adjourned shortly after it opened on Wednesday at a courthouse thronged with media and surrounded by noisy supporters and protesters.
Berlusconi, who was holding a ministerial meeting in Rome, did not attend the hearing, which lasted seven minutes and was devoted to formalities. The trial was adjourned to May 31,
The trial promises to be the most sensational of the many in which Berlusconi has been a defendant. Among those called to testify is the Hollywood actor George Clooney, who has denied Mahroug's claim that he was a fellow guest at an Arcore dinner.
According to the prosecution, these were often the prelude to so-called bunga bunga sessions in which the women guests performed erotic dances, before Berlusconi chose one or more of them with whom to spend the night. Investigators gathered evidence of substantial payments to the prime minister's young female guests, including Mahroug,