Sex trial of Italy's Berlusconi delayed until April 22

ROME (Reuters) - Judges in the Italian city of Milan said on Monday that they would delay Mr Silvio Berlusconi's trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor until April 22, pending a decision on whether to transfer the case to the city of Brescia.

A separate appeal against a conviction for tax fraud has already been delayed until April 20 after the former prime minister's lawyers appealed to have the cases transferred to Brescia from Milan, where they say he cannot get a fair hearing.

Italy's highest court, the Corte di Cassazione, is due to rule on the request but no date has yet been set for a decision.

Mr Berlusconi, who has accused magistrates of mounting a politically motivated campaign against him, is accused of paying for sex with former nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name Ruby, when she was a minor.

The 76-year-old billionaire media tycoon is also accused of abusing the powers of his office to have Ms El Mahroug released from police custody over an unrelated theft charge.

He denies all the charges and says he has never paid for sex with anyone. Both he and Ms El Mahroug deny having had sex with each other.

The case coincides with a political crisis in Italy caused by an inconclusive February election which left no party with a majority in parliament.