Better to be fond of beautiful girls than to be gay: BerlusconiBy DPA, IANS
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
MILAN - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Tuesday dismissed the latest sex scandal facing him and defended his fondness for “beautiful girls”.
“When I’m in the presence of a beautiful girl, I look at her. It is better to have a passion for beautiful girls than to be gay,” Berlusconi said.
The premier was referring to reports linking him to Moroccan woman and sometime go-go dancer, Karima El Mahroug.
“Don’t read the newspapers, they deceive,” Berlusconi said at the opening of a motorcycle industry show in Milan.
Newspaper reports last week first linked Berlusconi to El Mahroug who claims that as a 17-year-old, together with dozens of other women, she attended parties hosted by the premier at his home in Arcore near Milan earlier this year.
El Mahroug, who turned 18 Monday, reiterated in a newspaper interview Tuesday that she has never had sex with the 74-year-old premier.
Denying earlier claims, she also told the right-wing Milan daily Libero, that she had never attended supposedly erotic after-dinner shows involving the premier.
Last week Berlusconi appeared to confirm reports he had intervened on her behalf when she was being held by police in connection with theft in May.
Berlusconi indicated that to prevent El Mahroug from spending time in jail, he had asked police to release her in the custody of a regional politician and former television showgirl, Nicole Minetti.
Berlusconi reportedly told police that El Mahroug, who uses the stage-name Ruby Rubacuori (”heart-stealer”) was a niece of Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak.
Berlusconi said he had been moved by the “tragic picture” of El Mahroug’s life.
According to reports the woman had fled from her family to avoid an arranged marriage to a much older man. The charge was subsequently denied by her father.
Minetti and a close friend of Berlusconi’s, 79-year-old television news anchorman, Emilio Fede, are reportedly under investigation in Milan on procuring of prostitutes charges linked to the case.
Both deny any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile the scandal has prompted a wave of criticism aimed at the premier.
Several Catholic publications said Berlusconi’s lifestyle is at odds with the dignity required of a statesman.
Opposition leaders have denounced what they say is the premier’s “abuse of power” by his attempt to influence police procedure.
They also claim the premier’s actions have left him vulnerable to blackmail and hence that he is no longer fit to remain in power.
But Tuesday, Berlusconi vowed to see out his term in office which expires in 2013.
Ruling out talk of an early return to the polls, Berlusconi said a “ferocious”, election campaign would prompt voters to stay away.
The media-magnate-turned-politician has been embroiled in a series of sex scandals - including one in May 2009 when his wife, Veronica Lario, announced her intention of divorcing him after reports that Berlusconi had attended the 18th birthday party of a lingerie model.
Lario also accused her husband of “frequenting” underage women, a charge the premier denied.
In June 2009, a self-described escort, Patrizia D’Addario, alleged she spent the night with Berlusconi at his residence in Rome.
Berlusconi has said he is “no saint”, but denies ever paying for sex.