Ruby the heart
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was cleared of having sex with underage prostitute Karima El Mahroug, otherwise known as Ruby RubacuoriGetty

Investigations into the infamous bunga-bunga sex parties involving former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continue. A new trial – the third in the saga – starts in January 2017 and will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the testimony of key witnesses.

Twenty-three people were indicted on 19 October and stand accused of various charges of corruption in judicial proceedings and false testimony.

Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heartstealer, is one of the people facing trial. She was the woman at the centre of the bunga-bunga sex-party scandal that contributed to the end of Berlusconi's last term in power in November 2011.

Mahroug was 17 years old when she met Berlusconi. She was arrested in 2010 accused of stealing €3000 (£2,680) and he personally called the Milan police commissioner demanding her release. He ordered entrusted then Lombardy regional councelor Nicole Minetti, a former dental hygienist, with the girl's custody. He claimed Mahroug, who is actually Moroccan, was the grandaughter of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president at the time.

Among the other 22 people are Mahroug's former lawyer Luca Giuliante, the journalist Carlo Rossella, former Forza Italia senator Mariarosaria Rossi and many other young women who took part in the sex parties in Berlusconi's home in Arcore, near Milan.

Berlusconi Accused Of Bribing WitnessesIBTimes TV

Berlusconi is facing a separate trial in which he is accused of paying witnesses to testify in his favour. Berlusconi, who turned 80 in September, has always claimed he had given some money to the girls before the trial even began as a way to compensate them for the damages experienced as a consequence of the negative media portrayal.

The trial was most recently rescheduled as his lawyers said he was in a hospital in New York undergoing tests following a heart operation he underwent in July. He is now due to appear in court on 15 December.