Sabato, 20 Ottobre 2018

Ruby gives her take on Berlusconi ties at pimps' trial


(By Kate Carlisle)
Milan, May 17 - A young Moroccan former nightclub
dancer who went by the stage name 'Ruby Heartstealer' testified
on Friday at the trial of three people accused of pimping for
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi - retired TV anchorman Emilio Fede,
bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora and Nicole Minetti, an
ex-Lombardy regional councillor and the ex-premier's former
dental hygienist.
The woman, who is at the center of a sex scandal involving
Berlusconi said that when she first visited his villa in
February 2010 he gave her an envelope containing between 2,000
and 3,000 euros.
"I was always given an envelope full of money," often in
500-euro bank notes, she testified.
But he "did not ever give me five million, nor ever
promised" that amount, she said during her testimony.
The prosecution in a related trial against Berlusconi has
said that his bank withdrawals between October and December 2010
were enough to "cover abundantly" a 4.5-million-euro figure
allegedly mentioned in phone calls and notes involving payment
to El Mahroug.
The ex-premier has said he gave the young woman money
because he wanted to help her to establish a business and gain
her independence.
Opening a beauty salon was a "dream", El Mahroug said
El Mahroug said that although things did not go well when
she tried working in a salon in the city of Messina, she still
craved economic independence and her own shop.
She told the court that she was very surprised the first
time she visited Berlusconi's home.
"When I got out of the car (at Berlusconi's house), I was
told this was the villa of the premier, and I was surprised".
"It did not seem real," she said.
She said Berlusconi, then premier, introduced himself and
she was introduced simply as Ruby, adding that she went out that
night at the invitation of Mora and thought she was on her way
to a disco.
According to El Mahroug, she never saw the ex-premier touch
any girls at his supposed Bunga Bunga parties.
"The girls came close (to him) while they were doing their
sensual dances, but I never saw any physical contact," she said.
However, she told the court that during after-dinner parties
at the ex-premier's Arcore villa she saw showgirl Marystelle
Polanco dressed as "Obama and as Ilda Boccassini, with a toga
(magistrates robe) and red wig".
Milan prosecutor Boccassini - who worked closely with
murdered anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone in the 1990s and
also lead a 2002 trial in which Berlusconi was accused of
bribing judges in the 1980s in order to win control of the
state-owned SME food conglomerate - requested Monday the former
premier be sentenced to a combined six-year jail term for abuse
of power and for having sex with Ruby when she was underaged.
Berlusconi claims to be the victim of biased prosecutors,
including Boccassini, who have been conducting a witch-hunt
against him.
Also according to El Mahroug, Minetti would dress as "a sexy
nurse, doctor or nun".
"I saw Minetti, at a certain point while she was dancing,
strip down to her underwear," El Mahroug said.
"In the ex-premier's Bunga Bunga room, there was a pole for
dancing," she testified, saying that the other girls explained
the origin of Bunga Bunga came from a joke that Berlusconi liked
to tell.
El Mahroug also denied ever performing erotic dancing at the
alleged sex parties, and said she only ever made one appearance
"in a belly dance," using clothes given to Berlusconi by his
late friend former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
El Mahroug also testified that during that first party at
Berlusconi's home, she also told the "story" that she was the
daughter of a Brazilian singer and an Egyptian, and that she was
also a "relative" of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak.
Berlusconi stands accused of allegedly abusing his power in
a bid to have El Mahroug released from jail by arguing that that
was necessary to avoid an international incident with Egypt.
Mora, Fede and Minetti, all personal friends of Berlusconi,
are charged with the alleged procurement of prostitutes,
including Ruby, who was one year below the legal age for
prostitution at the time of the alleged sex parties hosted by
Berlusconi in 2010.
Sex workers can ply their trade legally in Italy from the
age of 18.
The former nightclub dancer testified that she never had
sex with Berlusconi, and that the ex-premier was under the
impression she was in her twenties and not a minor.
"He thought I was 23, 24," she said.
The prosecutor contested this, citing a wiretapped
conversation of El Mahroug with a friend in which she said
"Silvio knows I'm a minor, but I denied this".
She told the court she was not telling the truth in that
conversation. "I told lies," said El Mahroug.
"For me, lies were an automatic defense mechanism with

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