Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi 'never said' Ruby was Mubarak relative

English
© ANSA

(see related stories)
Rome, January 2 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on
Wednesday denied ever having claimed a women he is accused of
paying to have sex with before she was 18 was related to former
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Berlusconi is on trial for allegedly having sex with an
underage prostitute nicknamed Ruby during his third stint as
premier, and using his position to allegedly try to hush it up.
"I've never said that Ruby was Mubarak's niece. It was an
invention of the newspapers, she (Ruby) told me that she was a
daughter of a family close to president Mubarak," he said on
Italian television.
Berlusconi's defence has been that he intervened with
police when Ruby, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, was
arrested for alleged theft because he was trying to avoid a
diplomatic incident.
He told TV station Sky TG24 that the case was "a monstrous
defamation operation mounted by the Milan court," to justify a
major investigation.
The ex-premier also boasted Wednesday that he has good
relations with Pope Benedict XVI in the latest in a long series
of TV appearances ahead of next month's general elections in
Italy.
Berlusconi was forced to resign as prime minister in
November 2011 when the country's debt crisis threatened to
spiral out of control and his government was replaced by an
emergency administration of unelected technocrats led by
outgoing Premier Mario Monti.
Several Italian Catholic publications have strongly
criticised the media magnate, who has been hit by a series of
sex scandals, including the Ruby case, and was given a four-year
prison sentence in October in relation to tax fraud in the
trading of film rights for TV broadcasts by his Mediaset media
empire.
But the 76-year-old media magnate said he has a warm
relationship with the head of the Church.
"I've received telephone calls and made visits to
pontiffs," Berlusconi said.
"There is also absolute devotion on my part with the
current pope and absolute cordiality with me on his part".
Berlusconi also said that the recent endorsement of Monti's
bid for office by Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano did not
mean the former European commissioner had the backing of the
Holy See.
"It wasn't an endorsement from the Vatican but from
L'Osservatore Romano, and that is very different," Berlusconi
said.
"We have excellent relations (with the Church). We are
liberals and we think there should be freedom of conscience, but
we always behaved a certain way with issues regarding the Church
in government and we always received praise from the Vatican and
the Church".
Berlusconi said the fact that he had dropped plans to retire
from frontline politics to lead the centre-right at the upcoming
elections did not necessarily mean he would be the coalition's
premier if they won.
He said coalitions only name a premier candidate after the
elections, as well as a candidate to be the next Italian
president, a post he is thought to hold ambitions of holding.
He also accused Monti of breaking a vow not to enter the
political fray made when the former European commissioner was
appointed premier with the backing of Italy's three biggest
mainstream political groups, including Berlusconi's People of
Freedom (PdL) party.
Monti said last month he would run for premier at the head
of a group of parties willing to back his reform agenda.
"Monti does not have credibility any more," he said. "He
was put at the head of a technocrat government with a promise -
he said he would not take advantage of the promotion.
"He promised all the Italian people and now we find him as
the leader of a coalition of fellow travellers".
He added that he considered centre-left leader Pier Luigi
Bersani to be his real opponent in the elections, not Monti.
"No. No," Berlusconi said when asked whether he thought
Monti was his main adversary.
"Our opponent is always the party that comes from the
Communist ideology," he said referring to Bersani's Democratic
Party (PD).
"It has changed name but it has radical roots in that idea
and has Bersani as its representative".
Bersani is a veteran of Italy's former Communist party, the
rump of which changed into a social democratic party after the
fall of the Berlin wall before merging with the centrist
Margherita (Daisy) party to form the PD in 2007.
Berlusconi also expressed confidence he could revive the
PdL's long-standing alliance with the Northern League, which
ended after Berlusconi's third government collapsed.
The League were staunch opponents of Monti's government
from the time it took over power, while the PdL backed it until
last month.
Northern League leader Roberto Maroni recently told
Berlusconi that the alliance would not be resumed if the
ex-premier were to run for office again.
"The alliance is in a phase in which the details are being
addressed," Berlusconi said.
"I'm convinced that we will be allied like we were for many
years".
The PdL is behind in the polls and has little chance of
winning next month's elections without the support of the
League.

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