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Berlusconi calls house parties 'burlesque shows' not sex

Admits to paying money to 'support ruined lives' of guests

20 April, 14:17
Berlusconi calls house parties 'burlesque shows' not sex (ANSA) - Milan, April 20 - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that alleged sex parties at his house were nothing more than entertainment. "They were burlesgue shows," he told reporters during a court recess in Milan. Berlusconi is currently on trial for allegedly paying for sex with Karima 'Ruby' El Mahroug, an underage Moroccan-born runaway, after several of the parties at his villa at Arcore outside Milan and allegedly coercing police into releasing her after an unrelated theft claim to hush up the fact.

On Monday, Moroccan model Imane Fadil was the first witness to testify to attending a so-called 'bunga bunga' party and said she was offered 2,000 euros to stay the night. Fadil recalled an evening in which a model allegedly engaged in a strip-tease while dressed as a nun along with Nicole Minetti, Berlusconi's former dental hygienist who is now a Lombardy regional councillor for his People of Freedom (PdL) party and is one of three people accused of supplying the premier with prostitutes.

"Minetti organized the evenings," said Fadil, who described the performance as a sort of "Sister Act sexy dance in the bunga-bunga room," with Minetti and Faggioli both dressed in "black habits with a white cross on the headdress".

At another party she allegedly saw a young Brazilian model "with an AC Milan jersey and a Ronaldinho mask who stripped down to her thong". The Brazil ace played soccer for Berlusconi's AC Milan from 2008-2011. The other two accused of supplying prostitutes are bankrupt talent scout Lele Mora and long-time Berlusconi news anchor Emilio Fede, a close friend of the media magnate's.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa over the course of several evenings.

Berlusconi, who says his parties were innocent and "elegant" affairs, has stressed that both he and Ruby deny having sex, and has quipped "33 women in two months is too many even for someone who likes pretty girls, like me".

On Friday Berlusconi was confronted by journalists who noted bank records that show the ex-premier is still depositing money into the accounts of some of the women who attended his parties, now listed as injured parties in the case. "Yes, I'm taking care of all the girls whose lives have been ruined by the prosecution," he said. "The only thing they did wrong was accept a dinner invitation to my home". The ex-premier claims to be the victim of biased prosecutors who have allegedly been conducting a witch-hunt against him since he entered politics in 1994.

The charge of having sex with an underage prostitute carries a jail term of up to three years, and abuse of office 12 years.

The Ruby trial, which opened last April, is expected to run for years, with dozens of witnesses called by the prosecution and defence including George Clooney and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

photo: a courtroom image of Berlusconi (far right)
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