Firestorm follows claim that Berlusconi fiancée a lesbian
Pascale threatens lawsuits after allegations on TV program18 October, 17:48
(ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - A political firestorm and a potential multi-million euro lawsuit were ignited Friday after a Bulgarian actress claimed that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's fiancée is a lesbian.
Francesca Pascale, 28, said she has been defamed by the allegation and is considering legal action, her lawyer Paola Rubini said Friday.
According to some reports, Pascale could demand as much as 10 million euros in damages.
Pascale is also considering action against a political talk show Servizio Pubblico (public service) on the La7 network, presented by controversial TV personality Michele Santoro, on which the claims were made, said Rubini.
"We are evaluating whether to file a lawsuit," including the possibility of "acting against LA7," said Rubini. In response, Bonev wrote on her Twitter feed Friday that she was willing to go to court to defend her remarks.
"I have not received any complaints, but am ready to support the truth, even in front of magistrates," she wrote.
The controversy arose when Bonev said during Thursday night's broadcast that Pascale's engagement to the 77-year-old Berlusconi, who is one of Italy's richest men and a former three-time premier, is "just a facade" and that she and Pascale were "much more" than just friends.
Bonev has also claimed that Berlusconi knew that Pascale was a lesbian.
"Silvio decided to announce the engagement with Francesca only to continue to have fun with her and her 'friends', and not be misjudged by the company," said Bonev. Berlusconi is appealing after being sentenced to seven years in prison for paying for sex with an underage prostitute at sex parties at his home and abusing his power to cover up the affair.
Three associates of Berlusconi were convicted during of providing him with prostitutes.
Bonev's comments outraged not only Pascale but triggered a flood of fury from members of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) political party, who say her claims were made only to tarnish the reputation of the former premier.
"Our history and the story of Silvio Berlusconi cannot ever be fouled by journalism that uses vulgar gossip and questionable characters," said Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also the PdL secretary. Renato Brunetta, the PdL's whip in Lower House, claimed the program was designed to throw "mud" and discredit Berlusconi.