LEAD: George Clooney makes witness list of Berlusconi sex trial
Nov 23, 2011, 11:43 GMT
Rome - Lawyers defending former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in his so-called 'sex trial,' will be entitled to call upon as witnesses George Clooney and three former Italian cabinet ministers, a court in Milan ruled Wednesday.
The decision was taken during the latest hearing of a case in which prosecutors accuse the 75-year-old Berlusconi of paying the go-go dancer, Karima el Mahroug - also known as 'Ruby, Stealer of Hearts' - for sex when she was under 18.
Berlusconi is also charged with abusing his position as premier to cover up his liaison with Ruby. He denies any wrongdoing.
A list of more than 200 witnesses for both the prosecution and the defence was admitted by the court, the ANSA news agency reported.
Berlusconi did not attend the morning proceedings.
Witnesses for the defence counsel included three ministers who served in Berlusconi's conservative cabinet until he resigned on November 12 - former foreign minister Franco Frattini, former education minister Mariastella Gelmini and former equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna, ANSA said.
Hollywood star Clooney's former girlfriend, Italian showgirl Elisabetta Canalis, was also mentioned as a defence witness.
Berlusconi's lawyers have said many of the witnesses would be able to testify that parties hosted by the former premier at his residence in Arcore near Milan and attended by El Mahroug and dozens of other young women, were 'elegant evenings' and not orgies as alleged by prosecutors.
Prosecutors have argued that many of the witnesses are irrelevant to the case and represent a delaying tactic by the premier's lawyers.
In a separate but related trial, a magistrate on Monday recognized the right of some 30 women to sue for damages against three people accused of procuring prostitutes on behalf of Berlusconi.
The women, including Ruby, were allegedly lured to the former premier's villa in Arcore, near Milan, by the three defendants in the trial - regional politician Nicole Minetti, news anchor Emilio Fede and talent agent, Lele Mora. The three deny any wrongdoing.