The Italian Parliament has challenged the jurisdiction of a Milan court to try Premier Silvio Berlusconi on charges he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan prostitute and then used his office to try cover it up.

Mr. Berlusconi's trial opens on Wednesday in Milan before an ordinary tribunal. But the Premier's lawyers and political allies say he should be tried by the Tribunal of Ministers, which deals with offences committed by public officials in the execution of their duties.

The Lower House of Parliament, controlled by Mr. Berlusconi's conservative allies, voted on Tuesday to ask Italy's Constitutional Court to rule on who should try Mr. Berlusconi.

Tuesday's vote will not prevent the trial from opening as scheduled.

Under scrutiny

Aspiring Italian starlets and Oscar-winning actor George Clooney are being called to make appearances in Mr. Berlusconi's trial.

Unlike his other trials, the one that opens on Wednesday puts the Premier's personal life under scrutiny, and a conviction could end his political career.

TV crews from around the world will be on hand for the opening session — even though Mr. Berlusconi himself is not attending.

“This time it is not about offshore, secret accounts and tax havens but about sex, money and power,” the Turin-daily La Stampa wrote this week.

Mr. Berlusconi is skipping Wednesday's session, citing earlier commitments to attend ceremonies marking the two-year anniversary of an earthquake in central Italy that killed more than 300 people. — AP

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