, ROME, Oct 19 – Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi denied all charges at his trial on Friday for having sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his powers by putting pressure on police to release her.
“I can exclude with absolute certainty that there were ever scenes of a sexual nature” at his villa near Milan, Berlusconi told the court.
“I never put pressure on Milan police officers,” he said.
Defendants in Italy have the right to make a statement at any point in their trials without facing cross-examination.
Berlusconi is accused of having sex with Moroccan-born exotic dancer Karima El-Mahroug, better known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer”, when she was 17.
He is also charged with abusing his position as prime minister by pressuring police to release her when she was arrested for petty theft in May 2010.
The charge of exploiting an underage prostitute in Italy carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and abuse of power up to 12 years.
The trial began in April 2011 and was the latest in a series of scandals that helped precipitate Berlusconi’s downfall in November last year.