Judge in Italy orders trial for Berlusconi in escort case

ROME (AP) — A judge in southern Italy has ordered that former three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi go on trial over a case involving women procured for his summer villas.

Prosecutors have alleged that Berlusconi gave a businessman hundreds of thousands of euros to induce him to lie about engaging young women for the politician's villas a decade ago.

Lawyers for Berlusconi, a billionaire media mogul, weren't immediately available for comment. Italian news agency ANSA quoted them as saying they'd prove his innocence.

The judge on Friday set the trial to open Feb. 4.

Berlusconi, 82, leads the center-right Forza Italia party he founded, but is currently barred from public office due to a tax fraud conviction.

In a separate case, Berlusconi was acquitted on appeal of paying for sex with an underage woman.