Berlusconi lawyers ask for trial move hearing to be delayed

ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers have asked for court proceedings related to fraud and sexual misconduct charges to be postponed to allow the politician time to concentrate on the election of a new Italian president, court documents showed on Tuesday.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday to consider Berlusconi's request to move the two trials from Milan, where the media magnate says the courts are biased against him, to the nearby city of Brescia.

Berlusconi's appeal against a tax fraud conviction connected with his Mediaset broadcasting empire and a separate trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor are on hold until the Court of Cassation makes a decision on the move.

The legal petition seen by Reuters on Tuesday argues that the media magnate and his lawyers, Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini, will be busy on Thursday because the election of a new Italian president begins that day.

As a senator, Berlusconi will be voting for the next head of state, who is elected by a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament together with representatives of regional government.

The mandate of President Giorgio Napolitano ends on May 15 and electing his successor is a vital step towards resolving a stalemate after an inconclusive general election in February.

Berlusconi succeeded in delaying the verdicts in the tax fraud and prostitution trials until after that election, where his centre-right coalition came in just behind the centre-left led by Pier Luigi Bersani.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)