Showgirls put up 'rent-free' by Berlusconi face eviction
A group of showgirls allegedly put up in rent-free apartments by Silvio Berlusconi have been served with eviction orders for "disturbing the peace" and bringing the area into disrepute.
The company that manages the apartment complex on the outskirts of Milan has given the women eight days to pack their bags, after receiving complaints from some of the other 150 occupants that their presence was "lowering the tone" of the development.
The Italian prime minister has been accused by prosecutors of having sexual intercourse with "several" prostitutes at his estate at Arcore, near Milan, and of keeping a "stable" of women in the upmarket Milano II complex. He denies the charges.
Yesterday, the Pope made a thinly-veiled attack on Mr Berlusconi's recent actions during an audience with Rome's police chief and police officers.
"The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith," Benedict XVI said.
On Thursday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican number two, said the Holy See was concerned by the recent developments and that there had to be a "more robust morality".
Mr Berlusconi is under investigation for allegedly paying for sexual intercourse last year with Karima El Mahroug, a 17-year-old erotic dancer whom prosecutors claim was working as an underage prostitute, and of abusing his powers in trying to cover up the encounters, which he denies.
The women served with the eviction notices said they were innocent victims of the investigation, which threatens to bring Mr Berlusconi's third stint in office to an abrupt end.
"It's absurd, incredible, a nightmare. I've committed no crime and I don't understand why I should have to leave," said Barbara Guerra (32) a model and reality television contestant.
"Where am I going to go with my kids?" asked Maria Ester Garcia Polanco (30) a model from the Dominican Republic. "I don't believe this is either justified or legal. We are victims in this whole thing."
Among the other starlets served with eviction are Imma De Vivo (28) who has appeared on Italian reality TV shows with her twin sister; Elisa Toti (31), a model from Siena in Tuscany; Iris Berardi (19), a Brazilian model and former Miss Italy contestant, and Ioana Visan (23), a Romanian showgirl.
The women were allegedly recruited and managed by Nicole Minetti (25), a showgirl and former dental nurse who was catapulted into politics by Mr Berlusconi after she helped fix his teeth when he was attacked at a rally in 2009. She denies the accusation.
Their eviction is the latest chapter in a scandal that has titillated and shocked Italians since November when Mr Berlusconi was accused of leaning on police to release Ms Mahroug, also known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, from an allegation of theft. Intercepted phone calls have allegedly revealed how young women competed for his attentions and money with stripteases. (© Daily Telegraph, London)