Rome - An Italian court on Monday postponed until next month a hearing in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's trial for abuse of power and paying an underage dancer for sex, the Ansa news agency reported.

The hearing will now take place on March 4, meaning it will come after a general election on February 24-25. Berlusconi was campaigning on Monday and did not appear in court to hear the decision, another factor which weighed upon the postponement decision.

Last week, the verdict in an appeal by Berlusconi against a four-year jail term for tax fraud was postponed to March 23.

Berlusconi's lawyers said the postponement was necessary in order not to influence the election campaign, in which he is trying to catch up on front-running centre-left rivals.

Berlusconi also faces a third trial, for passing on confidential information to a newspaper owned by his brother and, by so doing, hurting a political opponent. - Sapa-dpa