Berlusconi insists there were no 'sex scenes' at his parties
SILVIO Berlusconi has taken the stand in an Italian court to insist that "scenes of a sexual nature" never took place at his so-called 'bunga bunga' parties.
The former Italian prime minister made a rare appearance in the court in Milan, where he is on trial for abuse of office and paying for sex with an alleged underage prostitute, an erotic dancer nicknamed 'Ruby the Heart Stealer', who was 17 at the time.
The charges carry a potential prison sentence of 15 years but both he and the teenager, now 18, have denied that they ever slept together.
"I can exclude with absolute certainty that there were ever scenes of a sexual nature," he told the court's three female judges yesterday. "Everything happened in front of the staff and at times my children too came in to say hello," he added. Mr Berlusconi has five grown-up children from two marriages, both of which ended in divorce.
Models and showgirls who have given evidence in the trial described how young women would dress up as nuns and police officers and perform strip-teases and pole-dances for the former prime minister at his home in Arcore, outside Milan.
Some of the girls reportedly donned face masks depicting Barack Obama while dressed in skimpy knickers and bras. Others have said they performed lewd mock-lesbian shows and touched Mr Berlusconi "intimately".
The 76-year-old insisted all those reports were a fabrication, saying that the parties he threw were elegant dinners in which music and singing was provided by him and Mariano Apicella, a Neapolitan crooner with whom he has made CDs of sentimental love songs.
"They were just dinners in which I monopolised the attention, singing, talking about sport and politics and gossiping," he said.
"I never paid money to have intimate relationships with my female guests and my female guests could not be considered escorts."
In a move guaranteed to garner the trial even more attention, Mr Berlusconi's lawyers asked for George Clooney, the Hollywood actor and director, and Elisabetta Canalis, Clooney's Italian former girlfriend, to appear as defence witnesses when the trial resumes next Friday.
Lawyers want Mr Clooney to refute claims by Karima El-Mahroug, the real name of 'Ruby', that he was at one of the premier's "bunga bunga" parties in Milan.
Mr Clooney, who owns a mansion on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy, said last year that he had never attended one of the parties but would be happy to give evidence on behalf of the former prime minister.
"I spoke to their people and said, 'I will come and testify if you'd like', because I wasn't at the party that I was said to have been at. I wasn't at his 'bunga bunga' party." (© Daily Telegraph, London)