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Berlusconi team calls for Clooney, Ronaldo as witnesses in sex trial

Actor George Clooney and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo appear on a list of defense witnesses on behalf of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and George Clooney

Both Clooney and Ronaldo appear of a list of witness

Defense lawyers in a sex trial against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have called for actor George Clooney and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to give evidence in the Italian leader's favor.

Karima El Mahroug, Ruby the Hart Stealer, at a table in a club

Mahroug has denied that she ever had sex with Berlusconi

The trial is due to begin on April 6, with Berlusconi accused of paying to have sex with dancer Karima El Mahroug - also known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer" - when she was aged just 17. Both Mahroug and Berlusconi deny the allegation.

Clooney and his girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis were among the guests invited to dinner parties at Berlusconi's luxury villa in Arcore, near Milan. Prosecutors claim that the parties were, in fact, sex orgies that involved strip-shows and prostitutes.

Clooney, who has a house near Arcore, has said that he has only met Berlusconi on one occasion - and that was to discuss aid for the Darfur region of Sudan.

Football star denies 'Ruby' claims

Ronaldo's name arose in connection with the case after Mahroug told judges that she had sex with the Real Madrid player after meeting him in a Milan nightclub. Ronaldo denies ever meeting Mahroug, or paying her 4,000 euros (5,600 dollars) for sex.

George Clooney

Clooney says he has only spoken to Berlusconi once, about aid for Darfur

The defense team argues that Mahroug and other girls who attended parties hosted by Berlusoni have, in the past, falsely claimed the gatherings were orgies.

The names of both stars have been included in a list of 78 desired defense witnesses submitted to the investigating judge in the case. He will make the final decision about whether they will be called to testify.

Berlusconi is also accused of committing an abuse of power by asking police to release Mahroug when she was arrested for suspected theft last May.

Richard Connor (AFP, Reuters, SID)

Editor: Susan Houlton

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