Milan, Jan. 14 (AP): The Moroccan woman at the centre of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's sex-for-hire trial was in court today to testify as a witness for the first time.
Karima el-Mahroug was ordered by the court to appear after failing to show on two previous dates, reportedly because she was in Mexico on vacation.
She has been called as a defence witness.
Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, when she was 17, and then trying to cover it up. Both deny sexual contact.
El-Mahroug is the last witness due to testify, meaning that a verdict could come before the February 24-25 elections in which Berlusconi is heading a Centre-Right coalition.
But Berlusconi's defence lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, filed a motion to suspend the proceedings, citing the demands of the election campaign.
The prosecution opposed the request, arguing that Berlusconi is not the formal head of his party and that he has infrequently shown up at the trial anyway, as is his right.
The three judges dismissed Ghedini's argument that his commitments as head of the coalition in the election meant he would not have time to attend the trial.
El-Mahroug looked relaxed, chatting with her lawyer. She wore a dark parka with fur trim and carried a fashionable Louis Vuitton handbag. She has stayed out of sight since having a baby girl a year ago with her nightclub owner boyfriend.