MILAN — Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on trial for allegedly having sex with an under-aged prostitute, today denied there had ever been sex games at parties in his villa.
“I can rule out that there have ever been scenes of a sexual nature,” the 76-year-old Berlusconi, wearing a dark blue suit, told judges as he addressed the packed Milan courtroom for the first time.
“Everything happened in front of staff and, at times, my children too came in to say hello.”
Berlusconi, whose reported “bunga bunga” parties won worldwide notoriety, has repeatedly denied having sex with Moroccan-born nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name of Ruby the Heartstealer.
The centre-right leader is accused of giving Ruby cash and jewels in exchange for sex in 2010, when she was 17 years old and thus too young under Italian law to be paid as a prostitute.
He is also charged with abusing the powers of his office by getting her released from police custody after she had been arrested on unrelated charges of stealing a ‚3,000 bracelet from a friend. He denies the charges.
Crowds outside the court as were divided, as ever, between supporters and critics debating Berlusconi’s role in the scandal that helped precipitate his departure from power last year.
Berlusconi told reporters in April he had hosted “burlesque games” at his residence.
Prosecutors say dozens of showgirls and aspiring starlets received cash and gifts for taking part in sex games. (Reuters)