Berlusconi named in report on trafficking
Published 31/10/2011 | 05:00
ITALIAN prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been named in a US government report on people trafficking as a result of his relationship with a prostitute known as 'Ruby the Heart Stealer'.
Mr Berlusconi (75) is accused of having underage sex with Karima El Mahroug -- at one of the evenings he hosted at his lavish villa -- when she was 17 years old.
Miss El Mahroug was one of 33 women who attended the parties and at which it is claimed, among other things, that they dressed as nuns and police officers to perform pole dances and stripteases.
Mr Berlusconi was named in this year's State Department Trafficking in Persons 2011 report, which details the parties and describes how one of the guests was a minor.
"In February 2011, judges set a trial date for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child; reports. . . indicate evidence of third-party involvement in the case, indicating the girl was a victim of trafficking," the report said.
It goes on to say about him: "During the reporting period, the country's (Italy) prime minister was investigated for facilitating child prostitution."
Prosecutors in Milan have charged three of Berlusconi's closest friends with procuring prostitutes for his parties and this relates to the presence of Miss El Mahroug -- who calls herself Ruby the Heart Stealer -- at the parties, held at his lavish villa at Arcore near Milan.
The three are Emilio Fede (80), a news presenter on one of Berlusconi's main TV channels; showbusiness agent Lele Mora (55); and Nicole Minetti (26), an Anglo-Italian dental hygienist turned regional politician, who was also said to have performed stripteases for him.
Opposition MPs reacted with anger that Mr Berlusconi had been named, calling it "another shameful insult" for Italy.
Leoluca Orlando, of the anti-sleaze Italy of Values party, said: "Throughout the world, Berlusconi is known because of the Ruby affair, is known for his smuttiness, and (people) know he has been named in this report which details people trafficking.
"This is an indecent calling card for Italy on the international stage. . . there is a real risk that the rest of the country will be tarred with the same brush."
The disclosure comes days after it was reported that Mr Berlusconi gave nearly €3m in cash as gifts to his female admirers and spent an additional €337,000 on jewellery which he handed out as presents, according to bank records.
Mr Berlusconi's trial for underage prostitution resumes in Milan next month, and at the same hearing he has also been accused of abuse of office. Both he and Miss El Mahroug deny any wrongdoing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)