Berlusconi's lawyers challenge prostitution trial

Premier Silvio Berlusconi's defense presented a series of motions Monday in the Italian leader's trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and using his influence to cover it up.

The defense motions challenge some of the evidence used to support the charges, the trial's venue in a Milan criminal court and the decision to proceed with a faster trial without a preliminary hearing — as can be done in cases where the court rules there is sufficient evidence.

Prosecutors make their rebuttals, and any motions of their own, next week. The court is set to rule in July.

Berlusconi did not attend the session. His lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, says the premier won't attend during the early phase of the trial, dedicated to technicalities.

The trial is one of four cases Berlusconi faces in Milan, but the only one involving his private conduct. If convicted, the premier could face up to 15 years in prison and be barred from public office.