Silvio Berlusconi’s prostitution trial began today but was adjourned after only a few minutes.

Berlusconi, who is facing charges for sexual relations with an underage prostitute, was not present.

The woman at the centre of the scandal, Karima El Mahroug also known as ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’, was also not attending the trial.

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The 74-year-old Italian Primie Minister is accused of having sex with Miss El Mahroug, a Moroccan belly-dancer, when she only was 17.

A taped conversation featuring council member Nicole Minetti and Berlusconi, which was recorded on August 1 last year, was released yesterday.

On the tape, Minetti apparently warns Berlusconi that a prosecutor wants to ask her questions about Mr Berlusconi’s relationship with El Mahroug.

According to the transcript, Mr Berlusconi is alleged to anxiously have replied: “OK, what is important is that there are various people who can vouch for the fact that (Ruby) gave an age different to her real one”.

“Once that happens, there’ll be nothing more to say. We just helped her because we took pity on her.”

“Let’s hope that it doesn’t turn into a mess.”

Prosecutors claim that Berlusconi paid El Mahroug  for sex on 13 occasions while she was 17-years-old.

They also claim that he abused his position by trying to have Ms Mahroug released from police custody.

Both Berlusconi and El Mahroug aka Ruby deny having sex, and legal experts say it will be difficult to prove otherwise, but if found guilty, Berlusconi could be imprisoned for 15 years.