Sex trial hearing delayed over Berlusconi's health

Judges in Milan on Wednesday decided to postpone to Monday a hearing in Silvio Berlusconi's trial for having sex with an underage prostitute because of the former prime minister's health issues.

The court had sent in medical experts to work out whether or not Berlusconi was exaggerating an apparent eye infection and hypertension in order to delay a trial in which the verdict is looming.

The report on Berlusconi's health found that he was suffering from "jumps in blood pressure."

The next hearings in the trial will be on Monday and then on March 20, 21 and 25 but this timetable depends on the 76-year-old's sudden health issues and could be changed again.

The media baron is accused of having sex for money with the then 17-year-old Karima El-Mahroug, an exotic dancer nicknamed Ruby the Heart Stealer.

Berlusconi risks up to three years in prison on that charge and up to 12 years for allegedly putting pressure on police to have her released from custody when she was arrested for petty theft.

Both Berlusconi and El-Mahroug deny having sex.

Berlusconi is also appealing a tax fraud conviction and has been found guilty of publishing a police wiretap of a rival politician in a newspaper he owns.

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