Times 2

Berlusconi fights back as sex trial looms

ROME, Feb 5 (AFP) - Silvio Berlusconi still has plenty of political clout even as he braces for a bruising week in which judges are set to request he stand trial in a case involving a dancer known as “Ruby the Heart-Stealer”.

The inquiry into Berlusconi's alleged liaisons with prostitutes -- denied by the prime minister -- was first reported last month and has dominated Italian newspapers since then, with lurid headlines and pictures of an array of women.

But away from the gossip pages, analysts say the Italian prime minister has the vital backing he needs in parliament and is by no means finished despite the end of his alliance with speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini.

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