Saturday 20 January 2018

Silvio Berlusconi's 'bunga bunga' girls deny being prostitutes

Nick Squires

MORE than 30 models and showgirls who were allegedly recruited for Silvio Berlusconi's "bunga bunga" sex parties have denied being prostitutes, at the start of a trial in Milan.

The 32 women on Monday applied to be admitted as injured parties to the trial, with their lawyers claiming that their reputations had been badly damaged by the prosecution's allegations that they sold themselves for sex.

It was not a question of the women asking for money, but of wanting to protect their “honour”, their lawyers said.

The trial centres on allegations that women were procured for Mr Berlusconi, 75, by three of his most trusted associates – Nicole Minetti, an Anglo-Italian showgirl who under his patronage was propelled into politics in Milan; Emilio Fede, a television anchorman on one of Mr Berlusconi's television channels; and Lele Mora, a talent scout who is currently in prison for bankruptcy.

Prosecutors insist the women took part in sex parties at Mr Berlusconi's mansion at Arcore, near Milan, in which they performed "stripteases and erotic dances" for the billionaire businessman.

He has denied paying the women for sex, saying he simply invited them to "cheerful, elegant dinners".

But Ambra Battilana and Chiara Danese, two teenage beauty queens, said they were so shocked by what they witnessed at one of the parties that they immediately asked to be taken home.

They said Mr Berlusconi told crude jokes and encouraged the women to undress.

The two women said that after media reports emerged of their attendance at the party, they were labelled "escorts" in their home towns in Piedmont in north-western Italy.

The trial was adjourned until Jan 20, with hearings due to be held every Friday – ensuring that the case, like most others in the Italian judicial system, will proceed at a snail's pace.

A separate trial resumes on Wednesday in which Mr Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with an under age prostitute and abusing his office as premier by convincing police to have her released from custody on a theft charge.

Karima El Mahroug, 18, a Moroccan-born exotic dancer nicknamed Ruby the Heart Stealer, denies sleeping with the media tycoon. He also denies the charges.

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