Published November 23, 2011
Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney and Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo are among the high-profile figures that can be called as witnesses in the sex trial of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a court ruled Wednesday.
Clooney's ex-girlfriend and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Elisabetta Canalis is also on a list of 78 witnesses that Berlusconi's legal team are now allowed to call in his defense, La Stampa reported.
The former premier is set to stand trial for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute after one of his infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties, and then abusing his position of power by asking police to release her after she was arrested on suspected theft charges.
Prosecutors are calling 136 witnesses during the trial, including the Moroccan-born nightclub dancer at the center of the case -- Karima El Mahroug -- better known by her stage name "Ruby the Heart Stealer."
Clooney has a house on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy, not far from Berlusconi's private villa at Arcore, where the billionaire prime minister is alleged to have thrown the wild parties.
When it was first reported in March that Clooney may be called as a witness, the actor told Sky News he was puzzled by the news, as he had only met the 75 year old once.
"It seems odd since I've only met Berlusconi once and that was in an attempt to get aid into Darfur," he said.
Ruby told prosecutors during questioning that the "Up in the Air" star and Canalis were among the guests at one of Berlusconi's parties -- a claim that was denied by Canalis.
Ruby also claimed to have had sex with Ronaldo after meeting him in a Milan nightclub in January 2010. The Real Madrid player has denied ever meeting her.
Berlusconi's defense team has argued that Ruby and other wannabe starlets lied over Berlusconi's alleged nights with prostitutes and orgy-filled "Bunga Bunga" parties.
Using the services of prostitutes is not a crime in Italy, but paying for sex with a girl under the age of 18 is illegal. Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex, let alone with Ruby, who turned 18 in November 2010.
Berlusconi faces a maximum of three years in prison for the sex charge and 12 years for the abuse of power charge, AFP reported.