'No bunga bunga' at Silvio's Miss Santa parties
MOST media coverage of parties allegedly hosted by Silvio Berlusconi has featured semi-naked girls and the words "bunga bunga".
But a magazine owned by the Italian prime minister has attempted to present an alternative image of his social life, publishing details of a New Year's Eve soiree in which dancers were dressed as Father Christmas.
Admittedly, the six young women on stage at Mr Berlusconi's beachside villa in Sardinia were dressed in red mini-dresses edged with fake white fur, as well as black belts and crimson hats.
Among the guests was Noemi Letizia, a teenage lingerie model whose 18th party he attended in 2009, prompting his wife to demand a divorce and leading to the first in a series of sex scandals.
The new details of the December 31, 2008, party at his villa were published by 'Chi' ('Who'), a magazine owned by Mr Berlusconi's Mondadori publishing empire.
The magazine claimed the coverage was evidence that nothing improper happened at his parties and a rebuttal to the reports he hosted wild "bunga bunga" sex parties.
Earlier this week the Italian prime minister was told that he faces a criminal trial on April 6. Inflaming an already tense political situation, a judge in Milan said there was "ample" evidence to send Mr Berlusconi to trial for allegedly sleeping with an underage prostitute and obstructing justice by having her released from police custody.
The girl, Karima El Mahroug, who gave herself the nickname "Ruby the Heart Stealer", is a Moroccan-born runaway who was apparently spotted by one of Mr Berlusconi's cronies at a beauty pageant in Sicily and invited to one of his parties in Milan.
Meanwhile, a newspaper owned by the prime minister's brother, Paolo, was sent an envelope containing a bullet and a threatening message bearing the symbol of the Red Brigades, an extreme Leftist guerrilla group which was active in the 1970s. The letter, sent to 'Il Giornale', called Mr Berlusconi a "loser".
An opposition party leader predicted the prime minister will argue the trial should not go ahead on April 6 because the date marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the mountain city of L'Aquila.
Antonio Di Pietro, a former anti-corruption magistrate, said: "Berlusconi will certainly seek to go to L'Aquila to make speeches and to avoid having to go in front of the judges." (© Daily Telegraph, London)