SILVIO Berlusconi had "five anthropological categories" of women at his "bunga bunga" parties, according to the former showgirl accused of recruiting prostitutes, leaked transcripts of intercepted phone conversations allege.
After inviting a friend to attend one of the parties at Mr Berlusconi's mansion near Milan, Nicole Minetti allegedly said it was important that the young woman be briefed on what would take place.
"You will see total desperation," she told the woman, Melania Tumini, in an apparent reference to the way in which the models and would-be actresses competed for Mr Berlusconi's attention.
Ms Minetti, a TV starlet-turned-politician on trial for procuring high-class escorts for the former prime minister, told her friend: "There are five anthropological categories -- there are the sluts, the South Americans who come from the favelas [slums] and don't speak a word of Italian, the more serious ones, others who are somewhere in the middle, and then there's me, and I do what I do."
The 50,000 alleged phone calls are part of evidence prosecutors are using against Mr Berlusconi in a trial in Milan in which he is accused of paying for sex with a teenage nightclub dancer who was allegedly working as an under-age prostitute. He denies the charges.
In a separate development yesterday, Italy's highest court ruled that Mr Berlusconi paid "substantial" sums of money to the Sicilian Mafia in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a guarantee against him or his family being kidnapped.
The court said Mr Berlusconi dealt with the mob through Marcello Dell'Utri, who was convicted of mafia association and jailed for seven years in 2004 but subsequently appealed.
In March the supreme court threw out the case on technical grounds and called for a new trial.
Cosa Nostra's protection "was not free", the court said, adding that the media magnate was a victim of extortion.
"Berlusconi handed over conspicuous sums of money to the Mafia," the supreme Court of Cassation said in a 146-page document, explaining its decision last month to quash a trial against Mr Dell'Utri.
In the 1970s, Italian criminal organisations routinely kidnapped rich people or their children, often in the wealthy north of the country, and held them for ransom.
The most notorious example was John Paul Getty III, the grandson of oil baron John Paul Getty Senior, who was taken from central Rome and held for five months by the Calabrian mob in 1973.
Getty's ear was cut off and mailed to an Italian newspaper to push the family into paying a ransom.
Vittorio Mangano -- a Sicilian mobster later convicted of murder -- lived in Mr Berlusconi's home near Milan in the mid-1970s, allegedly to tend the horses. At the time Mr Berlusconi had two small children with his first wife.
In 2008, Mr Berlusconi said Mangano "behaved perfectly. He lived with us and accompanied my children to school".
Mangano died in 2000 of natural causes.
Although Mr Berlusconi is mentioned in the court ruling, he was not involved in the case. (© Daily Telegraph, London)