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'Ruby' sex procurement trial continues in Milan

Fede in first appearance, court told of ex-premier's handouts

09 November, 12:08
'Ruby' sex procurement trial continues in Milan (ANSA) - Milan, November 9 - A retired TV anchorman and close friend of Silvio Berlusconi made his first appearance in a Milan court on Friday to follow a prostitution procurement trial in which he is indicted together with two others.

Emilio Fede, bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora and ex-Lombardy regional councillor and the ex premier's former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti must answer to charges of favouring prostitution, including underage prostitution, in connection with alleged sex parties hosted by Berlusconi at his villa at Arcore near Milan.

One of the alleged prostitutes at the centre of the case is Karima 'Ruby' El Mahroug, a Moroccan-born belly dancer who was underage at the time.

Fede told journalists that he had ''come to the courthouse as a reporter, to see what is going on'', adding that he would not be speaking at the Friday hearing. During the proceedings Elisa Toti, a presenter on Berlusconi's private television network Mediaset, told the court that she has been receiving 2,500 euros a month from the ex-premier since January 2011. ''Berlusconi also helped me by lending me a deposit on a house and he is also helping me to pay the bank guarantee on that house,'' she said. Toti also said she had seen Berlusconi handing envelopes of cash to girls at Arcore on some evenings but denied that this was payment for sexual favours.

''It was assistance, he always helped everyone,'' she said.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa over the course of several months and in a separate trial the ex premier stands accused of paying for sex with Ruby after several of the parties and allegedly coercing police into releasing her after an unrelated theft claim to hush up the fact.

Both Berlusconi and Ruby have denied the charges.