My passion for women better than being gay -- Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, made an anti-homosexual slur yesterday, dismissing as a storm in a tea cup reports that prostitutes had attended sex parties at his Sardinian villa.
A prostitute was yesterday reported to have told police of her involvement in "bunga-bunga" sex parties at Mr Berlusconi's home. The prostitute (28), who has not been named, was questioned in connection with a separate investigation into alleged cocaine dealing.
Mr Berlusconi laughed off a political storm that has raged since a teenage Moroccan belly dancer said last week she had witnessed similar parties in his Milan home. "Better to have a passion for beautiful women than to be gay," he told a business audience.
The allegations have triggered an explosion of references to the phrase "bunga-bunga". The term, which is thought to refer to a punchline to one of Mr Berlusconi's bawdy jokes, has dominated news bulletins, appeared in newspaper cartoons and featured widely in discussions among Italians.
Another theory is that the phrase refers to an "erotic ritual" that Mr Berlusconi learnt about from his friend Col Muammar Gadaffi, the Libyan leader.
The alleged escort said men and women cavorted at a party last summer at Villa Certosa, Mr Berlusconi's multi-million-euro property on the Costa Smeralda.
It is claimed she was recruited by Italy's best-known showbusiness agent, Lele Mora, who is one of three people being investigated for allegedly aiding and abetting prostitution in relation to an alleged call-girl ring in Milan.
Karima Keyek, the teenager who is also known by her stage name of Ruby Rubacuori, claimed she too was introduced to the prime minister through Mr Mora.
She says Mr Berlusconi gave her €7,000 and jewellery when she attended two of his parties earlier this year, but denies having sex with him.
The 74-year-old billionaire is under intense pressure to respond to claims that he ordered police in Milan to release Ms Keyek from custody late one night in May after she was accused of stealing from a friend.
While some Italians have been angered by claims of abuse of office, others have delighted in satirising the alleged "bunga-bunga" parties. An opposition party, Italy of Values, has come up with a campaign poster entitled "Evolution of the species?" with three different satirical images of Mr Berlusconi. (© Daily Telegraph, London)