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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

World

Teenaged dancer blackmailed Berlusconi for her silence
IANS
Milan, January 19, 2011
First Published: 12:57 IST(19/1/2011)
Last Updated: 13:16 IST(19/1/2011)

The teenage Moroccan nightclub dancer whom Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi allegedly paid for sex, asked the premier for five million euros in exchange for her silence, according to tapped phonecalls.

Karima El Mahgroug, now 18, and Berlusconi deny they had sex over several months in 2010 when she was 17. Berlusconi is being formally investigated over the case for allegedly having paid a minor for sex - a criminal offence in Italy.

In an intercepted phone call in possession of prosecutors, El Mahroug says to a friend named as Poiana: "I have denied everything. I'm trying to save him (Berlusconi), so I can make some money out of this."

"How much? Five million euros. My case is the most shocking one of all, it has overtaken D'Addario and Letizia," she says in another phone conversation with her ex-boyfriend Sergio Corsaro's mother.

The teen was referring to the escort Patrizia D'Addario, who claimed to have slept with Berlusconi at his Rome residence in November 2009 and released audio tapes of their conversations which were published by left-leaning Italian magazine L'Espresso and daily La Repubblica.

Noemi Letizia is the teenage Naples underwear model whose 18th birthday party Berlusconi attended in April 2009 and whom he gave a 6,000 euro gold and pearl pendant. The following month, his second wife Veronica Lario announced she was leaving Berlusconi, saying she could not stay with someone who was "unwell and frequents minors".

In another intercepted phonecall in late October 2010, El Mahroug is allegedly heard telling her ex-boyfriend: "We're not worried. Silvio is calling me all the time and has told me to appear deranged, to spout nonsense."

"He says I'll give you whatever money you want, I'll shower you with gold, but it's important that you hide everything and don't say anything to anyone," she said.

Milan prosecutors on Monday sent a request to the Italian parliament's lower house for authorisation to question Berlusconi and search his offices in Milan in what is a widening prostitution probe that has also targeted three members of Berlusconi's entourage.

A parliamentary commission is expected to review the prosecutors' request Wednesday, according to a lower house spokesman.

The 74-year-old media mogul and billionaire financially supported and slept with a "significant number" of young women who prostituted themselves with him, according to prosecutors.

As a member of the lower house of parliament (chamber of deputies), Berlusconi is shielded by a law that requires a chamber commission to sign off on any request by prosecutors to search members' properties before they are carried out.

Berlusconi could also face abuse of office charges for personally ordering police in Milan to release El Mahroug also known as Ruby, who they were holding on an unrelated theft charge in May 2010.

In their request to parliament, prosecutors also named nine other women, who Berlusconi allegedly housed in rent-free apartments in his Milano suburb and gave cash payments and gifts, allegedly in exchange for sex.

In a video message to supporters Monday, Berlusconi denied as "absurd" claims he had slept with El Mahroug, and said he had had a steady girlfriend since May, 2009. He did not name the woman in his address.

He repeated his often-stated claim that he has never paid a woman for sex, saying he would find this "degrading".


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