Silvio Berlusconi for probe on underage callgirl

A JUDICIAL inquiry has opened into the alleged sexual affair between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and an underage callgirl.

Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, said last night the probe would consider whether Mr Berlusconi abused his position on the night of May 28-29 last year by telling police in Milan to free a callgirl Karima Keyek, “Ruby”, who was 17 at the time.

The Italian leader attempted “to hide the fact that he was a client of an underaged prostitute over several weekends at Arcore”, his residence in the north of the country, the daily said.

He wanted to ensure impunity for himself and prevent the details of parties in his home being revealed.

ANSA news agency said Mr Berlusconi had been summoned to appear before a court, without giving a date.

Mr Berlusconi’s lawyers, Nicolo Ghedini and Piero Longo, last night confirmed the investigation, saying the probe represented a “very serious interference in the Prime Minister’s private life that has no precedent in the country’s judicial history”.

They claimed the case was media-driven and that the allegations “have already been refuted by all witnesses and people directly involved”.

Daniele Capezzone, spokesman for Mr Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, reacted by attacking the leak of information and “incredible accusations”.

“If someone . . . still believes that Silvio Berlusconi can be defeated through judicial means, once again they will be sorely disappointed,” he said.

Mr Berlusconi’s office said it had no immediate comment. Many of his political allies said the latest probe was the latest attempt to hurt the Prime Minister by what they say are left-leaning magistrates.

The office of Milan prosecutor Antonio Sangermano said he was not available for comment.

The Ruby case became public months ago when it emerged that Mr Berlusconi had intervened to secure the release from police custody of the girl, who had been held for theft.

Mr Berlusconi said at the time that he had done nothing wrong, and that he had only intervened to help someone in need.

The investigation escalates a long history of accusations of sexual and financial improprieties aimed at Mr Berlusconi, a billionaire businessman who has shaken off the crises and maintained his hold on power.

It comes, however, at a moment of particular vulnerability. The Prime Minister has been politically weakened in recent months and a law shielding him from two unrelated trials in Milan was significantly watered down on Thursday by a ruling of Italy’s Constitutional Court.

The 72-year-old media mogul, a renowned playboy, has said he has never paid for sex, while admitting that he is “no saint”. He also denies having sexual relations with Ruby. The Moroccan girl, who turned 18 in November, claims she has been to parties in the Prime Minister’s villa near Milan but also denies having sex with him.

Mr Berlusconi is already under scrutiny for organising parties at Arcore with young women who are allegedly paid E5000 ($6800) for the evening.

Italy’s top court on Thursday opened the way for corruption trials involving Mr Berlusconi to resume after modifying a temporary immunity law that has shielded him.

The Corriere della Sera said on its website that police had searched the officers of Mr Berlusconi’s associates, including a regional councillor and Giuseppe Spinelli, a close aide.

A former callgirl, Nadia Macri, 28, said in November she had attended at least three of Mr Berlusconi’s parties, and described a selection process involving girls picked up on the street.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply