ROME—The Moroccan teenager at the centre of a prostitution scandal that has sent Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to trial says she has done nothing wrong and that “all the gold in the world” could not make up for the suffering she has endured.
In an email exchange with the Associated Press on Wednesday and Thursday, the woman nicknamed Ruby lamented that she has been “treated as a prostitute by all the Italian and foreign media.”
“I WANT TO BE COMPENSATED for having been hurt so much and all the gold in the world would not be enough,” Ruby, whose real name is Karima el-Mahroug, wrote to the AP in Italian.
Ruby, now 18, requested €15,000 ($20,340) for a full TV interview from the AP, saying: “I don’t do anything for nothing.”
The AP, a not-for-profit news cooperative, does not pay for interviews.
Berlusconi was indicted Tuesday on charges that he paid for sex with Ruby when she was 17 and under age, then used his influence to cover it up. The abuse of influence charge relates to efforts by the premier to get Ruby out of the custody of Milan police when she was detained in May for an unrelated suspected theft of €3,000 ($4,103). His trial begins April 6 in Milan.
Berlusconi, 74, has denied ever paying for sex. He has dismissed the accusations as “groundless” and said he is not worried by the trial.
Ruby has also denied a sexual relation with Berlusconi, saying in a Jan. 19 television interview on a TV channel owned by Berlusconi that the premier never “put a finger on me.” She said, however, that he had given her €7,000 ($9,500) on their first meeting. Ruby said that at the time she identified herself as Egyptian and gave her age as 24, rather than 17.
The AP does not name alleged victims of sexual crimes unless they have come forward publicly.
The judge who issued the indictment said Berlusconi intervened with Milan police “with the clear goal” of “hiding” the crime of prostitution to “ensure impunity.”
The indictment also lists 13 nights that Ruby spent at the premier’s villa in Arcore, just outside Milan, from Valentine’s Day last year through May 2, 2010. It said the evenings were “in exchange for sums of money that were paid in cash by the suspect” or by his accountant — or for other gifts such as jewellery.
The 27-page indictment was obtained Thursday by the AP and widely circulated in the Italian media.
Di Censo detailed a frantic round of phone conversations after Berlusconi called a top police official in Milan around midnight on May 27 when he learned that Ruby had been detained.
According to the document, Berlusconi, who was in Paris that day for an international meeting, urged the official “to quickly release the minor,” saying the teen was related to Hosni Mubarak, the recently ousted Egyptian president.
Over the next two hours, and following other calls from Berlusconi’s office by unnamed parties, the senior police official called the officer dealing directly with the case a dozen times, with calls ranging from 1 second to just over five minutes.
At 2 a.m. on May 28, Ruby was released into the custody of a Berlusconi aide, a procedure the court document calls “glaringly anomalous,” in part because Ruby had no identification documents.
Berlusconi has maintained he intervened because he wanted to avoid a diplomatic incident.
But Di Censo wrote that such a defence is “openly contradicted by the logic of events.” It noted that Berlusconi did not contact Egyptian diplomatic officials, which the document said “would have been natural if (Berlusconi) had been moved by the intention of safeguarding diplomatic relations with Egypt.”
The document noted that after the Berlusconi aide, Nicole Minetti, took custody of Ruby that night, Minetti soon left the girl with a Brazilian woman with whom Ruby had been staying. Italian news reports have described the Brazilian as a prostitute, and identified her as the one who alerted Berlusconi that Ruby had been detained in the first place.
Minetti is also under investigation, along with two other Berlusconi confidants.
Berlusconi has dismissed calls for him to resign, saying he will finish his term, which ends in 2013. He scored his third election victory in 2008 at the helm of a conservative coalition.