Italy’s embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made his first court appearance in eight years on Monday over alleged fraud during the acquisition of TV broadcasting rights. The hearing, which was closed to the public and lasted about two hours before being adjourned until April 4, is one of four separate trials in the coming weeks involving Berlusconi, including one about allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute. Berlusconi had been previously saved from court thanks to a law which allowed him to claim he was too wrapped up in official duties to stand trial. Even though the 74-year-old media billionaire’s popularity has been plummeting in recent weeks due to his legal troubles, about 100 people gathered outside the Milan tribunal to cheer him on. Berlusconi has claimed he’s been targeted by the political left in an effort to bring him down, saying, “All the trials are absolutely absurd and based on nothing.” The most high-profile case, in which the prime minister is accused of paying to have sex with a teenage nightclub dancer named Karima el Mahroug—or “Ruby,” her stage name—is slated to begin on April 6.
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