Berlusconi ordered to trial over alleged witness tampering

Berlusconi ordered to trial over alleged witness tampering
Silvio Berlusconi and Karima El-Mahroug, the woman he was charged with paying for sex when she was 17. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/Giuseppe Aresu/AFP
Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was ordered on Thursday to stand trial over alleged witness tampering in a case related to his notorious "bunga bunga" parties, media reports said.

The ruling is the latest chapter in the scandal involving Karima El-Mahroug – known as Ruby the Heart Stealer – who the veteran politician was accused of paying for sex.

After being convicted in 2013, he was cleared of all charges in 2015. Mahroug was 17 at the time of the alleged offence.

But a court in Siena said Berlusconi should be tried over purported payments to Danilo Mariani, a pianist who played during the parties at the politician's house near Milan.

A first hearing is to take place in Siena on February 1st 2018, reports said, with Berlusconi accused of paying Mariani to lie at his original trial.

The case is a setback for Berlusconi, now 81, who is seeking another political comeback.

Ahead of a general election set to be held before May next year, the billionaire four-time premier has taken a case to the European Court of Human Rights, asking it to annul a ban on him holding elected office.

He is hoping the court in the French city of Strasbourg will rule against a six-year ban imposed over his 2012 conviction for tax fraud.