Milan prosecutors deny report Ruby was not underage
Moroccan minister quoted as saying she was already 1827 January, 17:47
Three-time premier Berlusconi is appealing against a seven-year prison sentence he was handed last year for paying for sex with Ruby, before she was 18, between February and May 2010 and for abusing his office to try to cover up the affair.
Earlier on Monday a Moroccan Civil Service Minister Mohamed Moubdii was quoted by Arabic website Akhbarona as saying El Mahroug was legally an adult in February 2010.
''Ruby was of age,'' said Mohamed Moubdii, Morocco's civil service, in an interview excerpted on Akhbarona.
''Mohammed Moubdii asserts that it was he himself who signed the birth certificate of Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby, in 1992, when he was the president of the Al Fakih Bensalih district,'' read the website, which cited newspaper Al Akhbar as the source of the interview.
Sources at Milan's prosecutors office said there was no doubt that El Mahroug was underage at the time because they have evidence from her passport and from wiretapped conversations in which she talks about her 18th birthday, on November 1, 2010. Berlusconi and two of his lawyers, Niccolo' Ghedini and Piero Longo, have been put under investigation over suspicions they corrupted witnesses during a trial related to the allegations, Milan prosecutors said Thursday.
El Mahroug is under investigation for allegedly taking bribes to give favourable testimony for the ex-premier, prosecutors said.
Many other women who denied in court that Berlusconi hosted sex parties at his home near Milan are among 45 people probed too.
The 77-year-old billionaire vowed to keep fighting and stay in politics on Thursday after his multiple legal troubles worsened with the announcement of the new probe.
''I'm here and I'm staying here,'' said the centre-right leader, who remains at the helm of his Forza Italia party despite being ejected from parliament last year after the supreme court upheld a separate tax-fraud conviction, making it definitive.
Berlusconi says he is the victim of a campaign of persecution by left-wing elements in the judiciary who are trying to wipe him from the political arena.
The tax-fraud conviction was the first definitive one Berlusconi received in two decades of legal battles.