Ruby's mother misses Berlusconi trial due to travel costs
Says former premier's defence didn't pay expenses28 January, 15:02
Zhara Yazhini, mother of the young Moroccan dancer, Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name Ruby the Heart Stealer, was slated to testify on Monday but instead sent a fax saying she could not afford the travel costs from her home in Sicily and the defence had not paid for her airline ticket.
She had been called to testify by lawyers for Berlusconi - one of the wealthiest men in Italy - who is accused of paying to have sex with El Mahroug before she was the 18.
Both Berlusconi and El Mahroug deny ever having sex. The young woman has said money she received from Berlusconi was given as part of a gift. Berlusconi is also accused of abuse of office for allegedly having used his influence when he was premier to spring El Mahroug from a Milan police station to hush up the affair after an unrelated theft claim.
Yazhini explained in her fax to judges that her airline ticket was booked but when she could not pay, it was cancelled.
Berlusconi's defence team suggested it was all a misunderstanding.
The judges in the case adjourned to decide their next step.
They have already said that their verdict will not be released until after Italy's general elections February 24 and 25.
Berlusconi has been tried some 30 times but is rarely convicted as rulings are usually timed out or overturned on appeal.
Photo: Karima El Mahroug