Image: A Berlusconi's supporter shows women's underwear outside the court in Milan, Italy, Wednesday
Luca Bruno  /  AP
A Berlusconi's supporter shows women's underwear outside the court in Milan on Wednesday. Berlusconi supporters have pledged to maintain a vigil on a traffic island opposite the courthouse where dozens have gathered for recent hearings in three other pending Berlusconi cases, all involving corruption and fraud allegations.
msnbc.com news services
updated 4/6/2011 8:09:21 AM ET 2011-04-06T12:09:21

The trial of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges that he paid a teenaged nightclub dancer for sex and later abused his power in an attempt to cover it up started on Wednesday and was immediately adjourned.

Neither Berlusconi nor the woman, Moroccan-born Karima El Mahroug — who goes by the stage name of Ruby the Heartstealer — were in the courtroom when the trial was declared open.

The premier was holding a ministerial meeting in Rome to discuss Libya. He has denied wrongdoing.

Video: Will 'Ruby the Heart-Stealer' bring down Berlusconi? (on this page)

The brief session was held under tight security, with some 100 police patrolling the courthouse in downtown Milan.

Bunga Bunga! Germans inspired by Berlusconi

TV crews and other media from around the world were on hand for the opening session.

The judge, after just a few minutes of preliminary matters, adjourned the trial until May 31.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Sex trial begins for Italy’s Berlusconi

  1. Closed captioning of: Sex trial begins for Italy’s Berlusconi

    >> the trial of italian premier silvio berlusconi got under way this morning. he's accused, as you remember, of paying for sex with an under aged prostitute and using his influence to cover it up. while today's hearing didn't last long the messy case has thrown italy into an uproar. michelle kosinski is in milan. good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning. the first day of silvio berlusconi 's trial lasted eight minutes. it's all procedural. he didn't make an appearance. he's already facing three other trials for corruption, but of course this is the one that gets the attention, the women, the allegations of wild parties and he has not exactly been shy about all of this. silvio berlusconi 's latest defense? that at age 74, even he could not have done it. telling a newspaper, even though i'm a mischief maker, 32 girls in two months is too much even for a 30-year-old.

    >> you never see him frustrated. he's not afraid of the public or the media.

    >> reporter: these tv show girls said his infamous parties at the villa were elegant dinners where they might dance and the prime minister would sing. he's like a second fatherer says barbara guera, but leaked photos show them in progress with barbara dressed like not quite a police officer . dozens of prostitutes and young women were recruited for silvio berlusconi , but they defend him.

    >> he's not a monster. he's a simple man.

    >> reporter: alexandra said she's been to many of the prime minister's parties. they weren't full of sex and partying and naked women ?

    >> no. i never see this like crazy things. he loved me. but, you know, it's like a platonic love .

    >> reporter: and admits silvio berlusconi gave her more than $150,000. when was the last time you talked to him?

    >> today.

    >> reporter: you talked to him today? on her sparkly phone she called him but the person who answered said he was with a group. he's actually accused of having sex with teenage runaway turned heart throb ruby when she was 17 and getting her released from jail for stealing with silvio berlusconi saying she was related to hosni mubarak .

    >> if he were convicted of this crime he could never be a politician for the rest of his life.

    >> reporter: he's faced many trials for corruption but always walked away. this case is not necessarily a slam dunk . he insists he didn't sleep with ruby, didn't know her age and thought she was related to mubarak.

    >> the prosecution has a lot to prove. a lot depends on what he knew, when he knew it.

    >> reporter: the teflon head of state is now in the hands of three judges, all women -- the no-nonsense kind. prosecutors have 20,000 pages of stuff. lots of wiretaps, but it remains to be seen what's actually damning because what leaked so far isn't necessarily, at least so far as crimes are concerned. silvio berlusconi has been light hearted. the other day handling a tough immigration issue he made a joke and said when women were asked who wouldle sleep with the prime minister 33% said yes and 67% said, what, again? not everyone finds it funny, matt.

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