> ANSA English > News

Ruby, Berlusconi 'didn't lay a finger on me'

'Never asked for five million euros,' teen dancer adds on TV

20 January, 12:16
Ruby, Berlusconi 'didn't lay a finger on me'

(ANSA) - Milan, January 19 - A teenage Moroccan belly dancer at the centre of a probe involving Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and underage prostitution on Wednesday said the premier had never laid a finger on her.

"He never touched me, not even with a finger," said Karima El Mahrough, 18, in an interview on one of Berlusconi's TV channels.

"I esteem him as a person and for helping me without (asking) anything in return," said El Mahroug, better known by her stage name of Ruby Rubacuore (Heart-stealer).

Ruby, who was 17 when Milan prosecutors claim from phone records she stayed overnight several times at Berlusconi's residence outside Milan, said she had never been a prostitute although she had once had a close call when a would-be client in a Milan hotel paid her but advised her not to become one.

On another wiretap, Ruby is heard saying she wanted five million euros from Berlusconi for having had her good name sullied.

But she denied this in the interview on Wednesday, saying "I didn't say that, absolutely".

Ruby also denied telling Berlusconi she was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. She said she told him she was Egyptian, aged 24, but did not go into her family history with him.

Berlusconi is alleged to have pressured police to get Ruby out of custody, telling them she was Mubarak's granddaughter, an episode for which he is under investigation for abuse of office.

Using underage prostitutes carries a jail term of up to three years while abuse of office can be punished by a term of up to 12 years.

Berlusconi denies wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a plot by prosecutors and the media.

Ruby added in the interview that she had been raped by two of her uncles when she was nine, an incident her mother told her to keep quiet for fear her observant Muslim father would kill her.

When she decided to become a Catholic at the age of 12, she said, her father poured a pan of boiling oil on her and she still bears the signs on her head and a shoulder.