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European law: Guess who's set for his 2,569th court hearing?

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He is one of Europe's most controversial politicians, a wealthy media baron, and runs one of Europe's most powerful countries. But Silvio Berlusconi is set for a court trial that could end his career.

The Italian prime minister has been asked by prosecutors in his country to stand trial on allegations of abuse of power and having sex with a 17-year-old alleged prostitute.

Since Berlusconi came to power in 1994, he has faced a string of allegations and court hearings. Yet he has never been convicted in any of his 2,568 trials so far.

Berlusconi, 74, reacted to the news with trademark defiance. He is quoted on the Daily Telegraph website as having said his prosecutors had "subversive purposes."

He added: "I can only say that it's a farce. They are accusations without any basis. The only aim of the inquiry is to defame me in the media."

"But I am not worried about myself. I am a rich man who could spend his time building hospitals for children around the world, as I have always wanted."

Berlusconi currently faces four trials in total. Three of these have been halted due to a new immunity law he helped push through the Italian parliament.

To date the politician has faced 2,568 court legal hearings, although he has rarely made any court appearances.

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