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WORLD IN BRIEF: Berlusconi: Trial request is bid to topple him

Berlusconi: Trial request is bid to topple him

MILAN — Scandal-plagued Premier Silvio Berlusconi defiantly accused prosecutors Wednesday of trying to topple his government by seeking to put him on trial on charges he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and then tried to cover it up.

The sex scandal has splashed salacious details and allegations of wild parties at Berlusconi’s villas across newspaper front pages for weeks and drawn the ire of the Catholic Church.

Prosecutors allege Berlusconi, 74, paid for sex with the Moroccan girl, nicknamed Ruby, who has since turned 18, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained for the unrelated suspected theft of $4,103. They allege that he feared her relationship to him would be revealed.

Brazil brides face $300 fine if late to the altar

SAO PAULO — A church in Brazil is trying to crack down on tardy brides by fining them $300 for showing up late to their own weddings.

It’s a common tradition in the South American nation for brides to arrive at least 10 minutes tardy. And it’s not unusual to be an hour late — or worse.

Priest Roberto Carrara at the Nossa Senhora de Lourdes Cathedral in the small southern city of Apucarana is tired of wedding delays disrupting scheduled Masses and other ceremonies.

Cathedral secretary Daiane Evaristo said Wednesday that couples will be required to leave a $300 check as deposit.

They can only get it back if they’re on time.

US: Customs officer killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A U.S. customs employee and two British soldiers have died in insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan where violence persists despite a winter lull in fighting across the nation.

A suicide bomber killed a retired U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and wounded three other American customs workers Monday in Kandahar, which remains a hotbed of Taliban activity despite an influx of U.S. troops over the past year,

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement released late Tuesday in Washington that David Hillman, a retired customs officer who had worked for the U.S. government for 30 years, died in the blast at the Inland Customs Warehouse in Kandahar.