Jeffrey Donovan and Sonia Sirletti
February 15, 2011

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was ordered to stand trial on charges of abuse of power and paying a minor for sex, fueling calls for his resignation amid a deepening clash with the nation’s judiciary.

Judge Cristina Di Censo today approved a request by Milan prosecutors for Berlusconi to be tried. She fixed an April 6 start for the proceedings, according to a statement read to reporters. Berlusconi’s trial will be heard by a panel of three women judges.

The premier, who has denied any wrongdoing, has called the charges “disgusting” and “groundless.” A conviction on both counts could carry a maximum sentence of 15 years, though it’s unlikely Berlusconi, 74, would be jailed, given his age and the probability he could run out the statute of limitations during the appeals process.

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