Very shortly it looks as if Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is going to receive a summons to appear in court on charges of having paid for illegal sex with a minor. That minor Ruby, who was 17 at the time and thus below the age of consent for prostitutes, which is 18 in Italy, is denying having had sex with Berlusconi.
Update 19th January 2011 – 11:40
Berlusconi is continuing to deny everything and claims the Milan prosecutors have no jurisdiction over the case, further stating that they are acting illegally. He refuses to even contemplate resignation as an option and has stated he is enjoying himself – in the face of allegations of aiding and abetting the prostitution of minors. The reason for Berlusconi’s surprising joviality in the face of the serious allegations is could be down to his lawyers having found a loophole.
Berlusconi’s supporters are standing firm claiming that the case is no more than a mud slinging attempt at dethroning Berlusconi engineered my prosecutors in Milan.
The Vatican is not too happy with events, and Italy’s President Napolitano, who has spoken to Berlusconi, wants the matter clarified. It is not clear how Napolitano reacted to Berlusconi’s claims that the allegations he faces no more than mere fabrication and that he has never held bunga bunga parties. Intercepted telephone conversations seem to indicate the opposite is true.
The case is to be examined by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday 25th January. For the moment, Silvio Berlusconi is hanging on in there.
End of update
Breaking News Update: 17th January 2011 18:40
Reports hitting the news in Italy now state that in wiretapped telephone conversations Ruby said she has asked Silvio Berlusconi for five million Euros. She also stated that she had been seeing Berlusconi since she was 16 years old. Apparently Berlusconi, so Ruby has claimed, has been calling her regularly asked her to pretend to be mad and to make things up.
Ruby, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, is the girl of Moroccan origins who sparked the bunga bunga investigations. In an intercepted phone call she said she wanted the five million Euros to make up for the damage to her reputation caused by the bunga bunga affair. Ruby has also been making reference to the previous D’Addario case which concerned a call girl who reputedly slept with Berlusconi, as well as the Noemi incident which also sparked rumors that Berlusconi had had a relationship with a minor.
Here is the offical search warrant document which sets forth the reasons why Silvio Berlusconi and several close associates are under investigation in connection with prostitution and grants permission for premises related to the case to be searched for evidence – .pdf file – in Italian:
DOMANDA DI AUTORIZZAZIONE AD ESEGUIRE PERQUISIZIONI DOMICILIARI – Authorization to Search Premises Connected to Investigations relating to Berlusconi and Prostitution
Those who have seen other documents relating to the case against Berlusconi say it is somewhat hair raising. Women who had participated in the bunga bunga events commented in intercepted telephone conversations that Italy’s press had not reported the half of what went on at the parties allegedly held by Berlusconi. There are rumors that photographs of goings on at these parties exist, and in another wiretap, close friend of Berlusconi, Emilio Fede allegedly stated that he’d had to give one of the girls €10,000 out of his own pocket in exchange for photographs taken with a mobile phone.
When questioned about the existence of photographic evidence of what went on during Berlusconi’s parties, a prosecutor replied that he was not going to say, but that he wanted to keep some of the proof for himself. It does sound as if by endlessly accusing Italy’s judiciary of being everything from communists, to subversive, Berlusconi has poked the lions once too often and too hard. Poking lions is never a great idea – they bite, and Italy’s judiciary seems to be virtually the last institution in Italy with any sharpish teeth. Indeed, Berlusconi wanted to blunt such teeth, only he did not manage to in time – or so it seems.
Berlusconi himself was allegedly caught via another wiretap stating, “…they’ll never be able to prove I knew she was underage” – with reference to Ruby.
Shall we say that these goings could explain why Berlusconi wanted immunity from prosecution, pushed for the legitimate impediment – keep him out of court – card, and why he seemed so intent on pushing through legislation to reduce the effectiveness of wiretaps in Italy.
The mud seems to be getting deeper and stickier for Silvio Berlusconi, but he has the resources, possibly, to drag himself out of the mire, even if things are looking bleaker than ever this time. It is starting to look as if there has been an attempt at blackmailing Berlusconi. Whether Ruby is to be believed is another thing entirely, but she seems to have something on Italy’s premier – and it can be proved that she spent time at Berlusconi’s mansion in Milan.
Up to 28 girls are reported to have spent time with Berlusconi at his parties. It is likely that one, or more, will spill the beans in order to save her own skin.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
In the meantime, Ruby may have an accident – possibly in that super fast Audi R8 (see below) she says Berlusconi gave her.
End of update
Berlusconi is strenuously denying the accusations, and is claiming they have been made up by his enemies of old, Italy’s prosecutors who should be, in Berlusconi’s opinion, spending their time on more important issues, and not persecuting him. And the indignant Berlusconi is indicating that he will not see prosecutors in Milan, where the case is being dealt with, when ordered to do so, preferring instead to place the matter in the hands of a, possibly more friendly, parliamentary court: the Tribunale dei Ministri. The legitimate impediment card may also be played to try to keep Berlusconi out of court in Milan and away from enemy prosecutors such as Ilda Boccassini. Boccassini, in another case in which Berlusconi’s name came up, accused Berlusconi of lying.
At this very moment you can be sure that Berlusconi’s legal team will be working hard to find a technicality to use to move the case from unfriendly Milan courts and mafia battling Ilda Boccassini to a more malleable environment in Rome. However the Tribunale dei Ministri is supposed to deal with cases concerning accusations leveled at politicians for wrongdoing in connection with their official duties. The Ruby case parties would not appear to relate to Berlusconi’s official duties, unless I’m missing something, or Berlusconi’s lawyers can argue that the parties at Berlusconi’s home were official functions. This is Italy, so anything is possible!
To try to convince people that he did not do anything untoward with the girls invited to parties at his place, Berlusconi has stated that he is in a relationship. With whom we know not, not yet anyway. While this claim might remove him from the spotlight a little, the 2009 photographs of nude and semi-nude party goers at Berlusconi’s palatial mansion on Sardinia – which was up for sale – tend to indicate that at least some of Italy’s prime minister’s parties were rather raunchy. Then there were the alleged bunga bungs parties in Milan. These events seems to make Berlusconi’s claim that he has a partner seem little more than an attempt to brush up Berlusconi’s image.
Now Italy is alight with speculation as to who the mysterious lady friend of Berlusconi is. But the bunga bunga case is not going to go away.
The accusations Berlusconi is facing are serious and seem to confirm Berlusconi’s ex-wife Veronica Lario’s insinuations. Lario stated on the eve of her separation from Berlusconi that he had been consorting with minors, and she implied that the relationship between Berlusconi and such young women was not merely simple friendship and may have been sexual.
The Ruby case and the bunga bunga sex parties seem to confirm what Lario was alleging. The race is now on, yet again, to save Berlusconi’s image and, as seems to be common nowadays, to keep him from being convicted of a crime. But getting Ruby to admit that she actually had sex with Silvio is not going to be easy. After all, would you admit such a thing after having received a long list of valuable gifts? Probably not.
Gifts for Ruby
Here is what Ruby has allegedly received so far either from Berlusconi or from his associates:
- An Audi R8 car
- A Valentino dress
- 7,000 Euros for ‘entertaining‘ Italy’s premier.
- 150,000 Euros in handouts
- The promise of a Wellness Centre for her to own and manage
To the list, add:
“gold crosses, necklaces, earrings, diamond-studded watches (Rolex, Bulgari, Dolce&Gabbana) and ordinary watches with the inscription “It’s a good thing that Silvio is here” or with the Milan football club logo, haute couture clothing” – according to La Repubblica.
Ruby has stated that she has received money to both keep her quiet and in order to ensure she says the right things, according to the Quelle telefonate di Ruby “Ha fatto sesso con il premier” – Ruby’s Calls “She had sex with the premier” – article in Italian daily La Repubblica.
The chances are that if Ruby continues to play ball with the Berlusconi team, she will continue to receive generous financial support. Such assistance will probably be enough to buy her silence in the event that something untoward did occur while she was in the company of Italy’s aging Lothario stroke prime minister. Maybe it did not, in which case the long list of ‘gifts’ she has allegedly received seems exaggerated, although young ladies have been known to receive generous gifts from sugar daddies in the past. But prosecutors say they have proof via cellular phone records that Ruby spent time in Berlusconi’s mansion in Milan, and there is the reported ‘key witness‘, but unless someone caught Berlusconi with his trousers down in the company of Ruby, it’s not going to be easy to prove that he actually had sex with the minor in question.
International interest in the resurrected bunga bunga affair has been high, so high that on the web site of Italian newspaper La Repubblica several articles in English have been published:
This week in Italy is going to be interesting, and whether or not Berlusconi will continue to survive is anyone’s guess. Berlusconi, as usual, is fighting his ground hard and, ironically, trying to avoid facing prosecution for activities rendered illegal by laws introduced by his very own government.
One thing is certain, Berlusconi’s legal team are earning their fees.