London, Dec 13 (ANI): Silvio Berlusconi helped Karima el Mahroug, a nightclub dancer dubbed Ruby The Heart Stealer, released from a theft charge in May 2010 because he believed her when she told him she was the granddaughter of the then Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, a court in Milan has heard.
Lawyers of the former Italian prime minister insisted that he was convinced by the improbable story and intervened to have the young woman freed from the theft charge because he feared her detention could cause a diplomatic incident between Rome and Cairo.
Berlusconi, 75, put pressure on police in Milan to have the teenager, who is of Moroccan rather than Egyptian origin, released from custody during telephone calls made from his offices in Rome.
The defence said that as soon as he realised that El Mahroug's claim to being related to the former Egyptian leader was false, he broke off all contact with her.
He chose not to intervene on her behalf when she became involved with the police on three subsequent occasions, in June 2010.
But prosecutors strongly contested that version of events, saying the only reason the former premier did not intercede was because by that time she was in the care of one of his close associates, whose role was to allegedly prevent her from making any embarrassing revelations.
Marco Ciacci, a senior police officer from Milan, said there was strong evidence to show that the exotic dancer was working as a prostitute when she attended Berlusconi's so-called "bunga bunga" sex parties.
He said the proof came from the testimony of witnesses as well as intercepted phone calls from the numerous showgirls and aspiring actresses who attended the parties at Villa San Martino, Berlusconi's residence near Milan.
"There was a series of converging elements, (including) witness declarations and numerous wire taps," the Telegraph quoted the officer as telling a prosecutor, Antonio Sangermano.
Taken together they proved that the teenager was "performing sex acts for payment," Ciacci told the court. (ANI)