Friday 28 July 2017

Teenager at centre of Berlusconi sex trial gives birth to girl

Karima El Mahroug has had a baby fathered by an Italian
nightclub owner who is more than twice her age. Photo: Reuters
Karima El Mahroug has had a baby fathered by an Italian nightclub owner who is more than twice her age. Photo: Reuters

Barry Moody in Rome

The Moroccan teenager at the centre of Silvio Berlusconi's trial for sex with an underage prostitute has had a baby fathered by a nightclub owner more than twice her age.

Karima El Mahroug (19), known widely by her stage name of Ruby the Heart Stealer, gave birth to a girl called Sofia at a clinic in Genoa.

She told Sky Italia television she hoped her daughter would have "a serene and tranquil life with her family and with much love".

The father is 42-year-old Luca Risso, who owns two nightclubs in the northwestern Italian city, where El Mahroug worked.

The baby and mother are fine, according to reports, while the father said his "happiness is impossible to describe".

The dancer was just 17 when Mr Berlusconi, the then prime minister, allegedly paid to have sex with her last year, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

If convicted, the 75-year-old Mr Berlusconi also faces up to 12 years in prison for abuse of power after he allegedly put pressure on the police to have Ms El Mahroug released from custody in an unrelated case.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Berlusconi paid for sex with Ms El Mahroug several times between February and May 2010. At the trial, which is ongoing, a police officer earlier this month testified that Ms El Mahroug was a prostitute.

Mr Berlusconi has denied all charges and claims he only gave Ms El Mahroug some money to help her out of a tight financial spot and intervened in her arrest because he thought she was the niece of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Both Ms El Mahroug and Mr Berlusconi deny they had sex.

The trial began earlier this year when Mr Berlusconi was still in power but has been delayed for months by a number of motions put forward by his defence lawyers, as well as the slow-moving Italian judicial system.

The former prime minister faces two other trials for fraud and corruption.

He was forced from power in November after his repeated failure to pass tough austerity measures led to a collapse in market confidence in Italy and pushed its borrowing costs to untenable levels.

He was replaced by former European Commissioner Mario Monti at the head of an unelected technocrat government, which is now pushing through a sweeping programme of cost cuts and tax increases.

Irish Independent

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