Berlusconi may face new trial over 'bunga bunga payoffs'
Silvio Berlusconi paid off showgirls with tens of thousands of euros in cash and even free apartments and villas in return for them lying for him during his "bunga bunga" sex trial, Italian prosecutors allege.
The disgraced former prime minister, pictured, could now face a fresh trial on charges of tampering with witnesses and inducing them to provide false testimony in court.
Prosecutors in Milan say Mr Berlusconi paid large sums of cash to a group of 21 starlets and showgirls throughout his "bunga bunga" trial, in which he was accused of paying for sex with a minor, a Moroccan-born exotic dancer nicknamed 'Ruby the Heart Stealer'. The cash payments amounted to around €2,500 a month but were sometimes much more. The three-time premier also bought flats and houses for some of the women and paid the rent of others, in what prosecutors suspect was a systematic effort to buy their silence. The women told the 'bunga bunga' trial that the parties they attended were sophisticated, elegant dinners rather than the wild sex gatherings that prosecutors alleged.
The payments were made through Mr Berlusconi's personal accountant, Giuseppe Spinelli, who was questioned for seven hours on Tuesday.
Ruby, now 21, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, allegedly received payments of up to €15,000 a time from Mr Berlusconi, spending the money on holidays in the Maldives, Mexico and Dubai as well as shoes and handbags.
The most recent payments were made in the last few weeks. She has always denied having sex with him.
The women attended the billionaire businessman's notorious 'bunga bunga' parties in 2010, where they performed stripteases and dressed up in nurse and policewoman uniforms.
This week, police searched the homes of several of the showgirls, models and actresses, as well as the home of the lawyer for Ms El Mahroug, who after the scandal married a nightclub owner from Genoa with whom she has a young daughter. Police seized computers and mobile phones which will be analysed for evidence of the women receiving money in exchange for giving false evidence in court.
Among the women under investigation are Iris Berardi, a Brazilian model and former Miss Italy contestant, Barbara Guerra, an Italian model, and Marysthelle Polanco, a topless model from the Dominican Republic.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)