- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ROME | Silvio Berlusconi’s defense attorneys on Tuesday named George Clooney, the Italian foreign minister and a bevy of showgirls as witnesses at the prime minister’s upcoming prostitution trial, an attorney and news reports said.

Prosecutors have asked to hear from 136 witnesses, including the Moroccan teenager at the center of the scandal and 32 other women who are suspected of working as prostitutes during parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s villa, according to Italian news reports.

Both sides presented their lists of witnesses at the Milan tribunal where the trial opens next week. A judge now must decide which witnesses to admit.

Mr. Berlusconi, 74, is accused of having paid for sex with the Moroccan, who is known as Ruby and was 17 at the time, and then using his influence to try to cover it up. The premier denies wrongdoing.

Mr. Clooney was listed because Ruby once said she had seen the Hollywood star and his Italian girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, at one of Mr. Berlusconi’s parties, according to the law firm representing Mr. Berlusconi.

“We want to see if they confirm this fact or not,” said attorney Piersilvio Cipollotti.

An email sent to Mr. Clooney’s representative wasn’t immediately answered.

Italian newspapers reported months ago that Ruby had said Mr. Clooney, who has a mansion on Lake Como north of Milan, and Ms. Canalis were guests at one of Mr. Berlusconi’s parties.

According to a Feb. 22 report in leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, prosecutors talked with Ms. Canalis last month and she denied that she and Mr. Clooney attended any of the premier’s parties.

Mr. Berlusconi’s defense also listed Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and other Cabinet officials amid the 78 people named as witnesses, Mr. Cipollotti said.

Mariano Apicella, the Neapolitan composer who performs for Mr. Berlusconi, as well as showgirls and TV personalities who frequented Mr. Berlusconi’s parties also were named, according to the ANSA and LaPresse news agencies.

Ruby, whose real name is Karima el-Mahroug, turned 18 in November.

Mr. Berlusconi is accused of having had several sexual encounters with her between Valentine’s Day last year through May 2, 2010, in exchange for money.

The premier also is accused of abusing his influence when he called police in May to get Ruby out of custody in Milan, where she had been held on charges in an unrelated theft. She was eventually released.



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