Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has admitted paying 53,000 pounds to an underage belly dancer to stop her from becoming a prostitute.
The 74-year-old prime minister said the cash was to stop the then 17-year-old Karima El Mahroug - also known as 'Ruby The Heartstealer' - from becoming a prostitute, according to The Sun.
Berlusconi said El Mahroug wanted to start a beauty salon.
He said he offered her 40,000 pounds, and added: 'She said 60,000 euros (53,000 pounds). I gave it so she could avoid any need to prostitute herself.'
The prime minister spoke outside a court in Milan, where one of his companies is facing fraud charges. His trial on charges of paying an underage prostitute for sex and abuse of power is due to start in May.
El Mahroug from Morocco said she once did a belly dance for the prime minister. But they did not have sex and just talked about politics.